Why I wore jeans to work yesterday

I wore jeans and a shirt to work on a Wednesday. Usually I’m a shirt and tie kind of guy.

It’s not a big deal, but I was interested to hear Tom Chapman speak in Cedar Rapids on the “humanization of entrepreneurship” and wearing a shirt and tie just seemed wrong . I don’t know many entrepreneurial minds that wear ties. That’s for the VCs.

Chapman is the director of entrepreneurship and innovation for the Omaha Chamber of Commerce. He was in Cedar Rapids as part of a two-day event organized by Amanda Styron and Andy Stoll, most recently the co-founders of Seed Here.

During his talk, he stressed three traits a community can utilize to create a vibrant entrepreneurial landscape: Friendship, humility and being less humble.

  • Friendship – Create a vast network of connected people so when opportunities arise there is a trusted relationship already established.
  • Humility – Be part of many things and take and give credit where it’s most due.
  • Be less humble – Speak up. People in the Midwest have trouble doing that when good things happen.

His main point, however, was highlighting the importance of people, the individual, in making an entrepreneurial landscape more vibrant.

“I hear it a lot. Innovation is important. Be urgent. Commit to doing it,” he said. Those are just words people speak. “An individual can make a huge difference. Find leaders that are not typical. Let people lead, so you don’t kill the authenticity.”

There are a group of individuals, including myself, organizing an unconference event called BarcampICR. Like Seed Here, a goal is to get creatives and entrepreneurs to share ideas and create a dialogue on current projects that are happening between the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City corridor. It’s a start.

“Be a champions for what you can do for your community and the realness of what it means,” Chapman said.

Some other key points from his talk:

  • Grown entrepreneurial teams by getting them talking to one another regularly. Don’t make assumptions about what the current ecosystem looks like.
  • Wealth is created organically. In the ecosystem, job creation and investments do their thing, but wealth creation is not a byproduct. It’s created by entrepreneurs.
  • Champion what individuals and teams can do for a community.
  • Raise the level of the dialogue about entrepreneurs: The people, the hardships, the successes, the daily grind of making things work.

Follow the #boomcow hashtag for more on Chapman’s talk.

A mobile strategy for a local media company

If I were to outline a mobile strategy for a local media company here is what it would look like. What am I missing?

Product approach

  • Provide a unique experience
  • Focus on a strong brand, good performance, good design and provide easy to use services
  • Define business objectives
  • Be transactional
  • Make it fun
    • Gamify local news and information if you can

Audience approach

  • Recognize mobile users are task driven and formulate everything around that
  • Know what users are doing on mobile devices in the market
  • Sharing+Location+Socializing

Mobile content strategy around local news and information

  • In general
    • Define what’s in and what’s out. Don’t be everything to everyone.
    • Adhere to the business objectives
  • News
    • Daily flow of information for just mobile users
      • You picks
      • Community’s picks
      • Traffic/weather/breaking news
      • Easy submission tools where content goes live immediately
    • Quote of the day with some context
    • Events to go to right now, later today, tomorrow, next week
    • Daily poll
    • Social flow of local news, information and people
  • Sports
    • Information unique to mobile users
      • Scores
      • Video highlights
      • Games, player recaps
      • Best of local personalities/bloggers
    • Best sports performance of the week
    • Athletes/games to watch this week
    • Events
    • Social flow of local/national/collegiate sports news, information and people
  • Search
    • Local search for things to do right now
    • Local business directory of places to eat, drink or get service right now

Business model

  • Location based opportunities based on preferences, behavior
  • Coupons
  • Deep discounts
  • Virtual goods
  • Buy photos


  • Measure the quality of the interactions
  • Measure real-world interactions
  • Reward influence in real-time

Some links I referenced for this post:


The truth about innovation

Innovation is a buzzword. Easy to use. Easy to cite. But it’s difficult to understand the complexities of what it actually takes to do new things, take more risks and think more creatively.

I think in many firms innovation is the triumph of hope over experience.  Innovation is fraught with risk, so few people are willing to dig deeply into what makes innovation work.  Further, because everyone is so busy, it can be hard to find time to innovate, so while many are called, few actually choose to participate.

The appropriate distribution of innovation work

Two links worth reading

Two of the better links from my reader this morning:

Are you Experienced? – At a minimum, everyone using social media and participating in innovation should understand that they are new tools, not completely understood, and often lack participation and involvement by the people most experienced in life. – Jeffrey Phillips

Cooperation vs Collaboration – How can we ensure that collaboration and cooperation coexist without threatening the organic, self organizing nature of connectives? – cloudhead

Online communities need software and people

I’m a firm believer that you can’t teach social behavior. You either participate and are active in that aspect of society or you’re not. Software can provide the tools and break down barriers, but it’s never enough.

I’m amazed at the number of times reporters at media companies use the same sources or cover town meeting the same way they have for years. Being a part of a highly engaged  and active community is a personal choice and requires living, working and playing in different ways with new behaviors.

Every workday is going to end with an hour of learning… reading Kawasaki and Godin and Ries and Trout, talking with invited experts, meeting with members of the community about what worked and what didn’t worked. Everyone who joins the program (and survives for a year) will come out with an almost supernatural ability to take a dead, lifeless site on the internet and make it into the hottest bar in town. That’s a skill worth learning for the 21st century.

Modern community building – Joel Spolsky

Modern community building -Fred Wilson