Politics & Government

    “Open For Business” is a Promise Made

    Open-for-businessOpen for Business 

    It’s a real joy when a business opens its doors for the first time. “Open for Business” sounds and feels like hope and possibility to me. Starting a new business is where creativity blossoms and where innovation is made real. You’ve created something and you want to deliver that value for a fair payment in return. That’s what an entrepreneur does.

    Why would the government put anything in the way of a win-win business transaction?

    The law recently passed in Indiana (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) is being fiercely debated. I really don’t want to comment, much, on the moral aspect of the law, I want to comment instead on what it means to open your doors for business in the USA. While this law may purport to support freedom, at least in some ways, it limits freedom. And the freedom it limits is a long-standing American tradition, and one I personally treasure. As a young boy in Wilkes-Barre, PA my mother took me into a Jewish Bakery (Kornblatt’s bagels were the best!), a Chinese Laundry, and a Polish Butcher all in a morning shopping trip. We were always welcome in those shops, even though we weren’t of the same faith as all those vendors. They knew how it worked, you open your doors, and you welcome everybody.

    When you open your doors for business you’re saying you have a service or a product to offer. In the land of the free and the home of the brave — anyone — with cold hard cash can walk through your door and buy your offering. Someone coming through your door should always be welcome. Customers support your business, and, are validation of your business idea. Their money, in exchange for your product, supports the life you choose to live. Your customer supports your freedom — all your freedoms.

    Opening your doors for business means anyone should be free to buy — that’s the implicit promise you make.

    Isn’t that an American tradition? Wasn’t the civil rights movement fought to expand that tradition to all?

    What somebody does with your product or service, as long as it’s legal, should be of no concern to you. You might have an interest in what they do with it, but selling your wares does not give you a right to anything more than the money you are paid. Customer relationships ought to be cordial and professional and sometimes a lot more, but nobody has a right to expect anything more than the fair exchange of goods and services for money. Having a product to sell, having a going concern, does not make you better than anyone else — and it doesn’t bestow you with a robe and a gavel.

    Who buys your product also should not matter.

    I’ve had some difficult customers in my time. Challenging, difficult people can make doing business hard. Sometimes there are people I’ve agreed to work with I really don’t care for — and whose values I question. Some people come in your door and you have a gut feel that they are just Wrong. And — I still make my best efforts to give them the finest quality I have. Why? Because I hung out a shingle, I said I was Open for Business. That’s the deal you make when you open a business. Breaking that deal means you have no integrity, by opening the door you should be saying everyone is welcome. ALL paying customers are accepted — be they Jerks, Purple-tatooed-Punk-rockers, Pink haired goofballs, Scientologists, Amish, Beatniks, African American’s, Native American’s, anyone from Norwood, Ohio — or LGBT — not to single anyone out.

    Most unpleasant buying and selling experiences are bad for both the buyer and the seller. Guess what? The market will sort it out if given time. Paying customers go where they feel appreciated. Generally you only have to hold your nose once — and that’s part of being Open for Business. Sometimes people walk in who smell. That’s how it goes folks, that’s business in an open and diverse society. It’s fair to fire a customer if the deal isn’t a win-win — that’s negotiation — but if someone meets your terms, pink  hair or not, smelly or not, that should conclude the deal. There should be no other considerations. If you have strong feeling about how bad or evil you think your customer is, remind yourself that they are helping you pay your mortgage.

    Religious freedom ought to mean that your religion doesn’t ever step on anybody else’s religious beliefs and choices. Let’s keep our religious beliefs to ourselves unless we are invited to share. Let’s keep our judgements to ourselves and realize we live in a diverse society.

    Let’s keep the implicit promise we make when we open our doors for business — that we are open to business — let’s keep our word.

    If you want to discriminate, don’t open your doors for business.

     

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    The Flaming Lips and Economic Development

    Consider Attending the Creativity World Forum 2015 As many of you know I’ve participated in the annual State of Creativity Forum in Oklahoma for several years. I’ve written here previously about how effective their model is in getting broad-based involvement, participation, and attendance. This is arguably the most successful creativity conference in the world right now. Those interested in the creativity and innovation field should attend Creativity World Forum 2015 if at all possible. It’s affordable, the content is superb, and it’s a great networking opportunity. It’s in just a few weeks, so register, and make plans now to arrive in Oklahoma City for the March 31st one day event. The illustrious Sir Ken Robinson is  returning as a keynoter (he

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    FAQ Re: Dr. Alan Black

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    Help Detained USA Citizen In Abu Dhabi

    This is a departure for this blog. While there is a direct connection to creativity and innovation it is essentially a press release written by concerned leaders in the creativity and innovation international community. One of our own, Dr. Robert Alan Black, has been detained in Abu Dhabi. The details are below. My request is that if you are so moved, please contact the offices of your elected officials. USA citizens can find contact information here.  Press Release For Immediate Release Contact:                     Rosemary Rein Phone number:       239-910-3354 Email:                         rosemaryrein@rosemaryrein.com   American Creativity Expert Detained In Abu Dhabi Friday October 31, 2014 – Athens, Georgia. Dr. Robert Alan Black, an Athens resident, is being held in Al Wathba prison in

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    Rural Broadband Necessary for Rural Innovation

    Tuesday– September 23, 2014 It’s nice to see that people are recognizing that innovation isn’t always in Silicon Valley. Writing you today from the countryside in Three Oaks, Michigan, aka “Michiana” — where my poky web access is satellite based. Steve Case’s article earlier this week in the Washington Post  – Why innovation and start-ups are thriving in ‘flyover’ country –  is spot on. Case, you may recall, was co-founder of AOL. He correctly identifies the reasons why Chicago, Denver, Cincinnati, and other smaller cities are becoming vibrant centers of start-ups. He’s asking for investments of time and money to be made in order to further the trend. I agree, and… He didn’t go far enough with his article — he missed one

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    Support RAMI

    We Can’t Get Serious About Manufacturing Soon Enough. I support RAMI. I read with interest a post on the congressional blog The Hill. In a rare example of cross party cooperation it would appear that the Senate is taking action on supporting growth in our manufacturing sector. Do read the piece but in essence the idea is to set up a national network for manufacturing innovation. This would build on the pilot center/hubs for innovation already set up by the Obama administration. Kudos to Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri). I like your style gentlemen — first for working in a true bipartisan manner, and secondly for doing it on something so important. The bill is called Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act (RAMI). Congressman Tom Reed (R-New York) and

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    Minimum Wage Boost in Silicon Valley Ups the Cinderella Factor

    Let’s put politics aside for a moment and pretend the minimum wage is not a party-centric issue. Let’s look at it from a pragmatic perspective if possible. Raising the minimum wage in Silicon Valley (beyond San Jose which has already done so) is a very important and rational thing to do for the economic health of the valley, California, and the USA economy as a whole. I’m sure a lot could be written about the class warfare aspect of this, but to me, the innovation guy, that’s not the key issue. The issue is continuing the incredible innovation that happens in Silicon Valley. As of March 2014 it’s 87% more expensive to live in Silicon Valley than the USA average.

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    Ted Nugent Lacks Creativity

    The Golden Triangle of Inanity I’ve resisted the urge to write an enraged post about the inflammatory comments made in recent weeks by Ted Nuget, Sarah Palin, and Duck Dynasty guy, Phil Robertson. I call them The Golden Triangle of Inanity (GTA). Many writers and observers have responded to their words in kind, so, I guess that base is covered. I had the notion to take Ted Nugent’s recent statement (called Obama a “subhuman mongrel”) on word for word, and then I thought, it’s not worth the energy. Why spread around even more negativity? Suffice to say I think the recent statements of the GTA are crass, ignorant, and grossly inappropriate. If you believe that these celebrities are speaking out

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    A New Idea for Black Friday

    The concept of Black Friday has me thinking about what we reward as consumers. My idea of shopping has nothing to do with sharp elbows, crowds, or even bargains. The kind of shopping I like is when I find something truly unique, really special and creative or innovative, at a small shop or family business. Best for me if it’s made in America, and of high quality craftsmanship, to me, this is real value — and I’ll buy that, I’ll reward that. That kind of shopping is increasingly hard to do. As I watched CNN this morning I was a bit amazed by all the “news” around the concept of Black Friday. Man-on-the-spot interviews at shopping malls, traffic reports from WalMart,

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    Four Lessons Innovators Can Learn From the ACA Failure

    The fiasco surrounding the roll-out of The Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) website might be the most predictable innovation failure of the last 30 years. It pains me to say so, as I’m a believer in the law, but wow, the Obama administration screwed the pooch on this one. There really is no excuse  – although there are logical reasons — why this happened. Sound application development principles are well known in the IT community. Somebody should have known how to use modern techniques to insure success. I’m sure many people building this application did know — sadly, political matters trumped a consumer perspective, good design principles, and creative problem solving. I feel their pain. As an entrepreneur in

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