Need financing for your start-up … join the Kernel!

Let’s say you have this great idea. You’re tired of working for the “Man.” You know deep down in you’re an entrepreneur. And you’re willing to put in the long hours and embrace austerity as your best friend. And the last thing you want to do is commit to an office space, spend your creative time in your space bedroom or become such a regular at local coffee shop that the seat in the corner has your imprint on it.

But you, and countless numbers of other fledgling young business owners are all staring at one seemingly insurmountable obstacle. You need funding. Not a lot, just enough to take of things barter or a good “arm twist” of one of your friends can’t take care of.

Banks aren’t going be any help. Banks don’t understand start-ups. They have no idea how value your project if you don’t have collateral backing it up. Banks need something to repossess. Venture capitalists want an investment they can sell off down the road for profit. They’re not interested in operating profit … especially from a $20,000 investment.

Normally, you would go to Uncle Charlie. But Uncle Charlie spent a day too long in Vegas. As they say “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” … including Uncle Charlie’s money.

What do you do? You join the Kernel!

The Kernel is essentially a co-working facility. But it’s way more than that. It’s an incubator that grows the future of your community.

Imagine …

  • A place you could go to interact with other entrepreneurs, all in various stages of start-up development. Your project would be independent, but you would be open for collaboration or just general input from your Kernel mates.
  • The Kernel contains all the physical common facilities you would need to launch and operate a small business: reception, common space (kitchen, bathrooms, etc.), digital reproduction equipment (variable data printing), etc.
  • The Kernel would also provide intangible services such as accounting, legal and other needed administrative functions. The HUB could even provide sales through a rep(s) that would do crossover sales for you and your other Kernel mates.
  • Funding for the Kernel would be provided by Seedsmen or investors. The Seedsmen would provide capital to operate the facilities and also any other expenses needed by the Kernel mates. Capital however need not be money, it could services (barter). For example, an attorney could invest in the Kernel via their legal services. The same thing could be for web design, accounting and even basic administrative labor. The goal of the Kernel is resource maximization.
  • The Seedsmen would invest in the Kernel as a whole, not just in one start-up. This way their risk could be spread over several projects – much the way venture capital firms work. Individual start-up Kernel mates can also invest in the HUB through their services provided to other Kernel mates. It would also be in the best interest of the Seedsmen to go out and recruit attractive new start-ups to join their HUB. How much share each “cog” has in the HUB as a whole, as well as how much share the HUB has in each start-up would have to be determined.

There you have it … a new age barter co-op start-up incubator.


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Who really cares about $4 gas prices … we don’t!

Contrary to the media overload on the gas price crisis – Americans really don’t care about the extra cost. Sure they’ll complain. But aside from those who make a living on the road, like truck drivers, it’s really no big deal, a few less dollars in the pocket – but really no big deal. If it was, we would change our behavior.

Irvine, California

And I’m not talking about buying a hybrid. I’m saying not driving, not using a car as a recreational vehicle where you just go out for spin to clear the head or drive to store at every whim. If gas prices were a big deal then people would the use bus, or the train, or carpool, or bike or even walk. Aside from a slight uptick in public transportation use … this isn’t happening. And we all know a little exercise would do this country wonders.

The United States is used to prosperity and independence, and car embodies this. Our cars are as much a status symbol as transportation. Our value is determined by that hunk of steel, plastic and electronics in our garage. Our car is an extension of our very being. To not want a better vehicle than our next door neighbor is, well … Un-American.

Until either gas price gets to a point where it’s either gas or something significant, not just a “another meal out a week” – or we change our value systems … all we’ll do is complain, and nothing more.


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Millennials Rising!

Over the past year I’ve been writing about the Millennial Generation, Generation Y and their propensity to band together and move as groups. We see it with the proliferation of social media, heck, social media was invented by this generation, literally. Recently – here and elsewhere, I’ve talked about how workplace and societal treatment needs to be different for this generation. Stress collaboration not competition.

Most Boomers in power however just don’t get it. They view this “grouping together” as being clingy and over-dependant. “If you can’t fight on your own then you can’t fight.”

Well, as generational analysts Neil Howe and William Strauss, authors of the Fourth Turning, so rightly pointed out … history repeats itself. And the generation labeled as “clingy” is actually the same generation labeled as “the Greatest,” the heroes of Normandy Beach. Our boys, and I say all the boys of the Allied forces banded together and did what only a couple of years earlier was assumed impossible. They won World War II.

I believe we may be seeing another Normandy Beach, this time in Egypt and before in Tunisia. Only, the common foe is not Hitler, but rather the dictators on their own soils. The fight for democracy in the Arab world is the war of the Millennials. These are educated young adults who only want a chance. They see their peers in other parts of the world, United States included, having access to opportunities they can only dream. And these are opportunities they see every hour of every day. Because remember, they associate with each other – they communicate. And it doesn’t matter with who or where they’re at. As long as they have common interests.

I’ve been following the uprisings in the Middle East in-depth other the last three weeks. One thing I’ve noticed:  Nobody talks about why what’s happening is happening now. All you hear how is it going to effect us here in the United States, and what would happen if the dreaded Muslim Brotherhood gains control of Egypt. It seems as if there is an edict from above (and where that above is I don’t know), that we keep our ubiquitous “war on terror” front and center. “Anywhere there’s a Muslim, terrorism is sure to follow.”

Well boys and girls … this whole thing in the Middle East is not about being Muslim. It’s not about being a Christian. It’s not about Israel. And it sure ain’t about terrorism.

It’s about generational discontent. These are educated, well-connected, aware young adults who are driving these rebellions. It’s all about loving their countries and wanting to make a go of it. They don’t care if the person fighting next to them is Christian or Muslim or Buddhist or whatever. They’re all on the same team – “the Pursuit of Opportunity Team.” And their team is not prejudice.

It only seems like it’s the western media, the CNNs, Fox News’s, etc – that wants to create division where there are none.

Boomers, take notice … the Millennials are not like you. They’re not hung up on race and religion and sexual preference. They’re way past it. These are your issues – not theirs. Case in point, look at this picture:  “Christians protecting Muslims while they pray.”

I find it interesting that while Egypt’s Generation Y continues their battle for their country in the streets – their Boomer elders are jockeying for positions of power in the new government that will undoubtedly transpire. There are members of current regime claiming to be reformed. There’s members of opposing parties, claiming to be reformed. There’s even someone who’s been in exile claiming he’s the one to make everything all better. They all say they’ll listen to the “youth movement” and hear their plights … whatever. Never mind the only reason we’re having this conversation is because of the “youth movement.”

How this all turns out in Egypt, in Tunisia and wherever else the next rebellion is – is anyone’s guess. All I know, is that with the Millennials new-found confidence in political activism … it really doesn’t matter which of the Boomers take over next. If they don’t pay attention  – they’ll go the way their predessesor did.

They’ll just be an irrelevant old man.


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Influence … and responsibility

As everyone knows, unless you’ve been living under a rock, our country had a tragic shooting in Tuscon, Arizona on Saturday.  Representative Gabby Giffords and several others were shot outside a Safeway during a “Congressman on the Corner” rally.  Several of those shot were killed, including a nine year girl and a federal judge.

Gabby Giffords
Gabby Giffords shooting

Much of the attention has moved past the details of the shooting and gunman, Jared Loughner – to the influences and influencers behind it.  The mainstream media has anointed Sarah Palin the designate evil puppet master due to her target ridden anti-healthcare bill website graphic.  That and the vitriolic rhetoric that has become ubiquitous over the last two years have the Republican guard (excuse the pun, but I had to) spinning … physically and publicly.

Now I’m no Sarah Palin fan.  In fact, I believe her ascendancy to the political front has “dumbed down” public discourse to level not seen in decades – since probably the McCarthy witch hunt.  But that doesn’t mean I think she to responsible for this atrocity.   But I don’t think she’s blameless either.

When someone rises to a level where they have followers – by definition they have people who follow them.  With this, comes power and often wealth (however you define it).  But with this wealth and power also comes responsibility.  I suppose you can lead your herd blindly over the edge of a cliff, and it’ll ultimately be the fault of the lemmings, one can’t discount the responsibility of the influence.

Too often we only focus on the perks of power and influence, without looking at the ramification of possessing them.  In a “Perfect World,” if our leaders misused their givings we would just walk away, letting them spew their idioms to the wind, within only the earshot of the delusional.  But the last time I checked, the “Perfect World” was still way off on the horizon.

As humans we seem to gravitate towards answers to the unknown.  Where we find these answers is where the issue lies.  Too often we become products of our environment.  And our environment includes the people and messages they relay, often over and over ad nauseam.  Continued exposure to these messages, in fact any message that is continually repeated, will result in acceptance.  After all … isn’t this what the advertising industry is built on?

We could all hope that we could sit back and under informed circumstances come to rational decisions that will appropriately govern our actions.  But again, this is not the “Perfect World.”  And in the meantime, those with the followers, those with the messages … the messages our followers take as gospel – must be responsible.

While the message of this post is directed towards the events of Saturday … I think we should extrapolate, and make it ours.  If you’re reading this you probably have a group of followers.  Whether they friend you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter or just come to the parties you throw in your living room – they listen to what you say.  You may not be Sarah Palin, but you still have followers.  And some of these followers may act on what you say… or what they perceive you say.

I’m sure Palin had no idea her callous ranting, verbally and graphically, would result in actions like Saturday – and I’m not saying it did, that doesn’t make it any better.  All we can do is learn from our mistakes – all of us.

Before we post or Tweet of even jump up on our soapbox in front of our children or friends … let’s think about its effects and not take for granted the influence we may have over the people who listen to us.

Because with an audience, with influence, must come responsibility.  For the actions that result from our influence are really just an extension of our own.   And are you willing to live with the consequences.


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Outstanding … mind over matter!

You know when you go to a restaurant, grocery store or pretty much any retail store … what’s the first thing they say to you, “how are you today?”

I am Outstanding

What’s your response – good, fine, alright?

Try saying “OUTSTANDING.”

Watch their response.  Better yet –  watch your own response?

You might just become OUTSTANDING.


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The Talking Stick … Shhh, listen

The Lakota Sioux in the Dakotas back in the 1800’s used something called a Talking Stick.  The Talking Stick was used during tribal councils.  The leaders of the tribe and neighboring tribes would meet and discuss important issues affecting them.

To keep order in these meetings they used the Talking Stick.  Unless you held the Talking Stick you couldn’t talk.  You just had to sit and listen.

Imagine if every sales person had a Talking Stick … and first thing they did was hand it to their prospect.  The rep couldn’t say anything.  They couldn’t pitch.  They couldn’t go on about their company being better than the competition.  And they couldn’t talk about they could solve every problem the prospect had – real or imagined.  They just had to listen.

They might actually hear what their prospect actually wanted – not what they wanted.

Shhh … listen.


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Revisiting Medici

A few years ago, when I was still down in Los Angeles, I was on my morning walk through West L.A. and I ran across a homeless gentleman collecting cans and bottles from a dumpster.  I stopped to talk to him.  We talked for about for fifteen minutes.

We talked about a lot things, the weather, the BP oil spill and eventually the conversation turned to the economy.  His take was that he thought things were getting worse, rather than what we’d been hearing from the news media. “How did you come up with that?”  I asked him.

“Well I see more cheap brand cans in the dumpsters than I used to.  Even last year when things were supposedly worse, people still drank Coke and Budweiser .  But now it’s changed.”  It’s Shasta and Natural Light.

Interesting, a frame of reference I wouldn’t have gotten through my normal channels.

I remembered a post I read in talking about the Medici Effect during the start of the Renaissance.  At the end of the Dark ages poets, artists, painters, sculptors and the like came to Florence, Italy to study and collaborate thanks to patronization of the wealthy Medici family.  Essentially, this melding of different backgrounds and disciplines started the Renaissance.

How can we personally duplicate this for ourselves?

Get out of your comfort zone.  Humans are creatures of habit.  We tend to do the same things, associate with same type of people and be influenced by the same sources as we always have.

Mix it up!

If you are a doctor, hang with a plumber.  If you’re white, talk to a black person.  Take the bus sometime (no – people on buses don’t bite).  If you live on the west side, have dinner on the east side.  And most of all if you’re old (yes Boomers you are old) … get some insight from someone young – someone that’s not your own kid.

Our brains are nothing more than synaptic connections which are built and strengthened through habitual activity and thought.  Build some new ones,  God only knows we could use more.

Who knows … maybe your next piece of inspiration may come next to a dumpster.


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