Just a bit of Auld Lang Syne – Farewell 2009

December 31, 2009

The year 2009 will be a year to remember- fondly by some and less by others.  But however you feel about this year soon past – 2010 is just around the corner. (Or as my Aussie friends remind me – It’s already here!)

As the clock strikes Twelve – New Years tradition is to gather with friends and family to wish them well – sing a song and exchange an embrace.  We’ve all heard the song and probably sung it – most of us badly – at least I have. 

It is believed Robert Burns wrote the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne in the 1700’s. (Most say in  1788.)  The 1700’s were  challenging years for the Scots – and in January of 1788 – it was the passing of an era with the death at 68 of the long exiled Bonnie Prince Charlie.

This video has Auld Lang Syne as sung by Dougie MacLean on his album Tribute.  

As we sing Auld Lang Syne to this challenging decade of zero years,  let’s take a page from from the song and put it behind us with fond memories of what was good and focus in on where and why we might raise our ‘cup of kindness’ to the decade to come.

Looking Back on the Big Zero

The decade of the Big Zero was not all bad – it had it’s highs and it’s lows.  But the highs for me included starting my own company (CorePurpose turns 8 in July), publishing my first book, leading an inspiring team at ASBA for two years, working with the team at Parenting Arizona and OTEF to make a lasting difference in our community, helping RiboMed move forward in it’s quest for new methods of early cancer detection so we can catch it early and stop the spread before it harms the ones we love, and watching my sons grow from boys into men that their Dad and I can be very proud if.   All in all, not a bad list.

Looking forward to the Big One

As I look towards 2010  and beyond – let’s call it the Decade of the BIG ONE – I’m starting a To Do List – not resolutions to break – just actions to take.

  • Help someone find a job they love.
  • Have lunch with a  friend to share ideas on a regular basis
  • Pick an OLD Problem and Solve at it in a NEW way at least every other day.
  • Recognize someone’s leadership potential and commit to be their mentor
  • Accomplish  ‘Small Things” as suggested by Rebel Brown in this post at Phoenix Rising.
  • Dust off that Five Year Plan and Refine it for 2010 and beyond
  • Identify What We Do Best – Focus our energies there and outsource the rest
  • Zero in on finding my QUEST company and get it growing.
  • Help my son Nick (he’s 18) write his business plan for HIS dream business so that when he writes his  2019 Look Back List he can say – “The Decade of the Big One was when I launched my business – and look what we have achieved.”

So, there you have it – my Look Back List and my To Do List going forward.  Have you started yours?

Thanks for stopping – best wishes for a Safe and Happy New Years and a record breaking 2010 and beyond.  Get ready – this decade will be the BIG ONE. 

Joan Koerber-Walker


Drawing a Crowd in the Cabbage Patch

October 27, 2009

I was scanning some articles online this morning when I cam across a fun one at How Stuff Works titled 23 Must-Have Toys from the 1950s and Beyond.  So I decided to check it out.  Of the 23 ‘must haves’, only Strawberry Shortcake never made it into either my or my children’s toy collection.  But it was the Cabbage Patch Kids that brought back the memory of how one innovative toy really drew a crowd.

imageXavier Roberts was a teenager when he launched his Babyland General Hospital during the 1970s in Cleveland, Georgia, allowing children to adopt a “baby.” In 1983, the Coleco toy company started mass-producing these dolls as Cabbage Patch Kids. Each “kid” came with a unique name and a set of adoption papers, and stores couldn’t keep them on the shelves, selling more than three million of the dolls in the first year.

 It was just before the Christmas holidays in 1983, and my fiance Chris worked at Coleco, home of the Cabbage Patch.  EVERYONE was trying to get their hands on the little darlings – even employees.  The company had to even hold a lottery for employees to be able to purchase them.  So after months of lotteries, we had a small collection of six Cabbage Patch Kids ready for adoption. 

I really did not give it too much thought when I lined up the ‘Kids’ on the back seat of my car and left my home in South Windsor, Connecticut on a Saturday afternoon to drive down to see our families in Danbury, Connecticut.  But I got a real lesson on what it is like for an innovation to draw a crowd when I stopped at a McDonald’s along the way to get a Diet Coke.  The young girl at the drive thru window saw into my back seat, and exclaimed!

WOW!  Where did you get all those Cabbage Patch Dolls!

That’s all it took.  Before I had even been given my cup, my car was surrounded by Moms, wallets and checkbooks in hand, asking me what it would take to sell them “Just One.”  I explained that they were gifts and that they were not for sale, but finally the manager had to come out and move the eager Mommies away – before I could put my car in gear and make my escape from the drive thru.  I learned a lesson that day…

When an innovation capture’s the public’s imagination – it draws a crowd.

Over twenty-five years have passed and I have seen many innovative new products come and go.  Some are just a passing fad, but others have real staying power.  As an investor, I look for those companies with inventions or solutions that can make life better in one way or another.  Products or services that capture the imagination and can, with the right resources, literally draw a crowd in their chosen marketplace. 

Some of these companies have been in technology – like when Bernie Vonderschmidt, the first Chairman and CEO  of Xilinx, shared his vision of the next generation in silicon technology,the FGPGA, or when Dr. Michelle Hanna of RiboMed helped me to imagine a day when we could detect and treat diseases like cancer BEFORE it was too late and our loved ones were suffering.  Others have not.  But none of the innovations I have invested in have been toys.  Perhaps because I never got over the experience of being ‘mobbed by Mommies’ at McDonalds.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

 


Standing Together this May Day

May 1, 2009

It’s May Day today (May1, 2009).  In different cultures and different places, May Day has different meanings, but interestingly in one way or the other they link to a common theme.  In each face of May Day we see people coming together.

When I write these weekly wrap up blogs, I often add a song or video so you can listen along.  This one – Stand By Me by Playing for Change is a favorite of mine – I hope you enjoy it as you read on.

So, back to May Day and its meanings…

For some, May Day is the celebration of Spring, with communities coming together to celebrate Spring in all its glory.  It is a time to look toward the future – to celebrate growth and new life.

In come countries, May Day is Labor Day or Labour Day while here in the United States, we celebrate it at the end of the month.  Around the world, May Day gatherings have not always been just joyous gathering and picnics.  May Day has long been a day of often marked worker protests, rallies for change, and calls for equality.  May Day became a significant rallying call for the Socialist Parties in many countries and in many cities around the U.S. this year there are gatherings about immigrant rights and issues.

May Day is also the internationally known distress call.  Not tied to May 1st, it’s origins come from the French phrase  m’aidez which translated means ‘help me’.  Only used in times of serious distress or danger, May Day calls are monitored 24/7 (on VHF channel 16, or HF 2182.0 KHz) so that help can be sent when needed.

Well on this May Day, some might say that we live in a time of distress calls.  War, unemployment, homelessness, business failures, and frauds mark the news daily.  Disease is on the rise from cancers, to autism, to the newest outbreak of swine flu around the globe.  But the good news is people and organizations continue to come together to do something about it.  Here are a few examples:

  • OTEF – The Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation – launched  Blueprint for Survival to help displaced workers through entrepreneurship skills.
  • The government continues to launch new programs daily to help on the Recovery. (Agree or disagree with the strategy and tactics as you may.)
  • New Global Citizens is teaching young people how to “be the change they see in the world” (Ghandi) while Playing for Change is is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music.
  • SARRC reaches out to offer support and solutions to a growing population of families touched by autism.
  • AACR recently held it’s 100th Annual Meeting of Cancer Researchers where people from all over the world shared ideas and innovations.
  • RiboMed is imagining (and working towards) a future when getting a noninvasive, multi-disease diagnostic test at your annual medical exam is as routine as having your temperature or blood pressure taken. Imagine tests that can detect early biomarkers of cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, autism or heart disease long before symptoms present. Imagine that when disease is detected, doctors can prescribe a treatment plan designed specifically for you.

In spite of all the  challenges we face, for me this May Day means Hope.  You see, when people come together to build solutions, magic happens. 

Please leave a comment and share ways you have found or seen where people are coming together and making a difference.  Leave your mark this May Day! 

Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker


What’s next? Where will you go from here?

April 23, 2009

2Grandma

From the time I was a little girl, one of my favorite questions has always been “what’s next?”  I want a new challenge, a new opportunity, a new friend.  I’m always looking around the corner for the What’s Next.   I’ve never been satisfied with the status quo, with sitting quietly, or staying where I’m put.  This probably drove my parents a bit crazy at times.  My Mom would lament that I was the busiest child of her five – the one who was into everything.  (Those of you who know me well are probably thinking – some things never change.) Lord knows what they had to bribe me with to get me to sit still long enough to get my picture taken with Grandma Marie.  (Yes, she’s the one in the hat.  I’m the one whose feet don’t touch the floor.)

When I left ASBA last December, many of my friends called and emailed, asking “What’s Next?”  They’d seen the press release or the news articles stating my intention to “focus on new opportunities in 2009 including “a more active role at RiboMed Biotechnologies, Inc. where she has served on the board of directors since 2007.”  (BTW – when we talk about What’s Next – there is not a better example with all the break through that are happening there as they are developing new tests and tools for early cancer detection!)

cmark

So, I have spent the last few months doing just that – focusing on new opportunities and I am glad to report they are all around us.  The trick is to recognize them when they occur and to make the most of them. 

To do this, I am trying to practice what we preach at CorePurpose, Inc.   So many times, I have stood in front of an audience and gone through the focusing drill.  Helping them to find their CorePurpose® by linking what they are passionate about – to what they are great at – identifying the linkages people will actually pay them for – and then tying it all back to the values they will employ as they pursue their goals.  Now it was my turn to do just that.

Step One required some introspection, some observation, and some questioning of those around me.  Great coaches like Lillian Coury are helping me answer the question while talented friends like Mark Dallmeier have shared insights and instruments to help me recognize the right growth opportunities to match my skills, talents, and aspirations.

Step Two was answering the questions:

  1. What am I passionate about?    Helping companies and people Grow and making a difference in my professional and private life. 
  2. What am I really good at?  Motivating people.  Building high potential, innovative solutions with existing resources.  Finding new resources when needed.  Connecting with people, developing them, and building teams. 
  3. What will people pay me for?  (Sometimes I hate this one, but if you can not monetize it in some way it’s a hobby, not a business.)   Speaking, Consulting, Leadership inside their company or organization.
  4. What are my valuesPeople matter, Acceleration – nothing happens when you are standing still, Promises – keep them, Excellence – If you are not the best – find out who is and get them on board, Results – you can’t succeed without them.

So tying them all together.  What’s next? 

For me, the perfect What’s Next is to acquire or join a company that’s poised to grow.  A leadership position where my skills and talents will take the team where they want to go – or better yet beyond it.  I’m still looking.  But in between, I’m having a blast exploring all the exciting opportunities that are around us.  Speaking to audiences, growing my company, helping others realize their goals, and sharing ideas about how we can innovate, seize opportunities, and turn things around. 

If you are still reading at this point – I have a challenge for you.  Go through the same exercise yourself.  Answer the four questions then tie them together to determine “What’s next?” for you.  And if you would – post a comment and let me know.

That’s all for now,

Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

CorePurpose® is a registered trademark of CorePurpose, Inc.


Sometimes You Win…

March 17, 2009

Chris, Dad and Chelsea with the Thorne Cup 2009.  Photo by Terri Berman

If you have been following this blog over the past few months, you know that there have been some big changes since December and there are lots of exciting games in play. 

On a personal note, my son Chris returned from Canada in December where he had been playing in the BCHL.  I wondered for a moment if my days as a hockey mom were over.  The next thing I knew, Chris was rejoining his former team, the Phoenix Polar Bears, as they skated their way to another Western Division Championship, made USA Hockey history when they locked in an Eighth Straight National Championship berth, and this weekend won the WSHL Thorne Cup Trophy.  The National Championships are the last weekend in March.  Stay Tuned.

On a business note, I left ASBA at the end of my contract in December 2008 to explore new opportunities and devote more time to my duties as a board member and treasurer for Ribomed Biotechnologies, Inc.  As my journey progressed, I have seen some incredible companies, found some incredible opportunities, pursued a ‘really cool deal’, made some great new contacts in the world of business, been actively raising capital, and learned a lot along the way!

My ‘really cool deal’ was an exciting roller coaster ride.

  • Identifying an interesting opportunity on January 12th
  • Analyzing it independently
  • Pitching the deal to investors
  • Getting the money I needed to make an offer and take the company to new heights.  Even though many said it could never be done that fast!
  • Making my offer – and starting the process
  • Losing the Deal to another bidder on March 16th.

Oh, no! you might be thinking, All that work and it did not happen.  Well, of course it was disappointing to lose the deal, but learning what I did alone the way is a BIG Win.

Here is what I learned:

1.  If you have a solid deal with good fundamentals – there is money out there to fund it. AND,  YOU CAN GET IT!

2.  There are lots of people committed to making a positive impact on our economy right now.  Not just politicians and big bankers, but entrepreneurs all over the country and the world, making connections, starting new projects, sharing connections, and making a positive impact – daily!

3. People want and need to hear POSTIVE business messages right now.  That’s why over 1,000 people like you are reading this blog.  And that’s why I make the time  to write it.

4.  That I may have lost this ‘really cool deal’ but a better opportunity is waiting just around the corner.  You may not win every game, but with each new game and each new play, you have the opportunity for a break-away goal.   Stay tuned…

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-Joan Koerber-Walker


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