Making your mark on the wall

July 10, 2011

I spend a quite a bit of my time with with innovators and entrepreneurs these days.  As CEO of the Arizona BioIndustry Association or AZBio as we say, I get to connect with teams that are researching and developing products for a better world… Sustainable Health (and health care) , more plentiful food, greener energy… pretty heady stuff.  My job’s not nearly as sexy.  Here at AZBio our job is ground support, providing opportunities for them to connect and engage with each other, pulling together educational and support resources and sharing their stories.  Our job is not to change the world.  Our job at AZBIO is to support them so that they can.

 

Cartoon #5806 - 'First off, it's not a cave wall.  Secondly, I doubt any future researchers will be interested in your sister or Gozilla.'
An Andertoons Cartoon

Read the rest of this entry »


Sorry, I’m not a LION.

November 16, 2009

No, I’m not talking about this majestic lady – Queen of the Jungle, I’m talking about LI-ONs, Linked In Open Networkers.  People who pledge to connect to everyone on Linked In who sends them an invitation.

You can normally tell a LION by a profile that reads LION or by their membership in a LION group.  Some people make the mistake of assuming that someone that has 500+ connections is by default a LION, and that can be a costly mistake.  It can result in a DNK or I Do Not Know this person response.  Get too many of these and your Linked In privileges can be restricted.

The Laws of the Social Jungle are Relationship Based

Successful networking, whether it is face to face, or profile to profile in cyberspace is about creating relationships.  Once the relationship is formed, then you can move on to real conversations whether it is in the business world or the personal realm.  When forming relationships, it is important to understand how the other person chooses to communicate and share information.  It also helps to understand the boundaries or personal space preferences of the other person and adapt your behavior to theirs.

Listed below are my personal boundaries.  That does not mean they will be the same for you, but they might give you some ideas when you form your own.

Linked In

  • Inclusive – CorePurpose, my company, has a linked in page to share information.   I also share ideas occasionally on a number of Linked In groups including Lead Change, MIT Enterprise Forum Phoenix, Continuous Innovation, Corporate Planning & Global Industry Segmentation, Forbes Woman, and Marketing Partners
  • Exclusive - I limit my Linked In connections to people I actually know and have done business with.  Having been on Linked In from almost the very beginning, I still have quite a few, but every single one is someone I know and can personally recommend to others.  This enables the true power of Linked In – quality introductions.

Facebook

  • Inclusive – CorePurpose, my company, has a Facebook page.  On it you can find blog posts, articles, and links that I choose to share.  Facebook pages are highly inclusive.  Like web pages or blogs, anyone can choose to see them or follow them.
  • Exclusive - My personal profile by definition is more exclusive.  If Facebook is for friends, then my personal choice is to keep it to friends and not connect to every person who finds my profile and wants to connect.  I want to know what my friends are doing – and to do that, I intentionally keep the group smaller so I can actually find them in the crowd.

Twitter

  • Inclusive - On Twitter, I am at my most inclusive.  I look for like minded people and I auto follow back the people who follow me. But more importantly, when people engage and talk to me with @mentions or non- automated DM’s, I engage with them and join the conversation. 
  • Exclusive - My exclusivity comes into play when people wear out their welcome.  Spammers, scantily clad avatars, porn, and hateful people are quickly unfollowed or even blocked.  I also go in once each month and clean up my accounts,  You can see how I do it here,

It was an article on CNN.com,  Defriending Can Bruise Your ‘Digital Ego’, that got me thinking about all this.  You see, I probably was “this one woman”.  The message is one that I use frequently when contacted by people on Linked In that I do not know.  It is not meant to be unkind, or rude,  Just realistic.  If I do not know you, I can not recommend you, and that is how I use that particular tool.  ‘I only connect with people I know, and hopefully our paths will cross one day.’  I am not that hard to connect with and engage in other areas.  Really – just Google me.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker


The Quest- In search of a transformational company

November 9, 2009

clip_image002In literature, as in legend, there have been many great quests. One in particular that has captured imaginations, for over two thousand years, is the search for a simple cup used in a great tale of transformation. Yes, The Quest for The Holy Grail.

This quest has been the inspiration that sparked great literature, epic poems, and motion pictures running the gamut from Monty Python to  Indiana Jones.

While my quest is not one of such mythical proportion, as I sat pondering how to share my plans with you, the legend of The Holy Grail leapt to mind. 

My Quest

I am, together with a valued group of friends, looking to acquire a controlling interest in a very particular company.  Our search and the legendary quest have more than a few things in common. In both cases they combine Innovation, Leadership, and Growth to create Lasting Value.  These are my personal passions. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you discover something with true potential and then do what it takes to Make It Great.

What’s been happening?

This year, I have been working with a small team of friends and advisors to search out really cool deals.  We’ve found some great ones, but not the right one. Not yet. 

Along the way, I have gotten much more active in connecting to friends old and new via a range of social media tools

However, it all came together when I was having lunch last week with Morris Callaman at a beautiful resort nestled against a mountain in Paradise Valley called Montelucia

Morris asked -

“Joan, what do you think about expanding this search and inviting your social media network to participate? You could literally ask for help crowd-sourcing this acquisition search.”

And that’s how it started.  So, here I am asking if you will help me locate the company I would like to lead next. If so, then what follows are some of the criteria we find necessary to successfully recognize our “grail” when we find it.  Ready? OK. Lets discuss a little detail around what this company is, and perhaps even more importantly, what it is not. An ideal company will be one where we can combine Innovation, Leadership, and Growth to create Lasting Value.

Innovation

Innovation in my book is doing something in a new way to make life better for the people who matter most to us – in this case employees, customers, investors, and strategic partners.  It is a company with a product or service that can transform an industry or niche.  For example, my friend Amilya Antonetti changed the way we look at soap in her quest to save the life of her son and now she is on a quest to help other entrepreneurs ask the right questions, get the right information and the things they need to succeed.

Criteria #1:  A product oriented company that will transform its market by creating new value through a better way of doing something(s). 

Unlikely Fits: Singing pop bottles, Presidential Pet Rocks, the corner store, or the next great social media tool.  While there may be lots of investors looking for these, I am not one of them.

Leadership

A great idea only gets you so far before it needs more.  In this case more is the ability to see the future direction of the company’s journey and to predict and obtain what it will need along the way.  Many a great new company has lost crucial momentum when the leader that led the way for the first stage of the journey is not ready for the next stage of that steep uphill path, which many entrepreneurs forecast and yet few would want to travel alone. 

The prize we seek on this quest will have a founder and a team that is looking for a new guide as they begin the climb to revenues and profitability so that everyone, employees, customers, investors and strategic partners alike, benefit from the next stage in the company’s growth.

Criteria #2: A dedicated team in search of experienced leadership and resources to help them successfully move along the growth path.

Unlikely Fits:

  • If ALL YOU NEED IS MONEY so that you can continue along the path you are already on.
  • If your goal is to maintain the status quo.
  • If, as the owner, you are not interested in passing the baton to the next runner in the growth relay.

 

Growth

The company must have solid growth potential and demonstrate how it could scale to provide a more than reasonable return to the investors.   

Growth curves come in all shapes and sizes.  There’s the steady incremental growth of a mature business, the graceful leaps of the Gazelles, and the inevitable ‘Hockey Stick” that appears over and over at every venture conference I have ever attended.  Yet, in the real world, it’s not the pretty charts and pictures that matter, it’s the foundational elements that make a transformational company stand out.  Some Gazelles grow to be great companies, while others rapidly run out of steam after the initial burst of growth.  Hockey Stick Growth Curves can be ‘the big pay day’ or they can simply be a sign of a business in danger of snapping under the pressure of too much, too fast.

Criteria #3:  The best true indicators of growth potential are not charts and graphs, but rather how does the company (or product) provide a solution that is usable by a large number of people and BETTER than substitutes (or lack thereof)?

Unlikely Fits:

  • One more “me too” solution in an already overcrowded market.
  • A terrific solution for a very small customer base (since these rarely can scale.)
  • Product or services that are not designed to fill a genuine customer need (since customers must ultimately be willing to pay and karma is important to me).
  • A ‘great idea’ that has not ever been built, tested, or sold to ANYONE (since I’d like it to already have at least one customer).

Lasting Value

And in the end, building a great company is more than just creating a widget, jobs, or shareholder value. 

Criteria #4:  It’s creating something to believe in, and be proud of, for the people who matter most to us (employees, customers, investors and strategic partners). 

Unlikely Fits:

  • Products or services you would be embarrassed to discuss with your parents.
  • Products or services that add no value to or potentially even harm the community, the environment, or others (since that just isn’t who I am). 
  • Any product or service that makes promises it cannot keep (since that certainly isn’t me either).

So that’s my list.  Have YOU seen this company?

Of course, there are at least two BIG differences between my quest and the search for The Grail of legend.  One, I know that I’m going to find what I am seeking, and Two, this is more than a personal journey, it is also an experiment in the power of social media.  So, if you’ve seen this company please let me know.   You can always leave me a note here, on my blog or, if you want to keep it confidential, you can also contact me by clicking here.

As long as we are on the subject, if you happen to be looking for a company too, just let me know what YOU are searching for and I’ll be happy to pass along what I may find for you along the way. Unlike the fabled Holy Grail, there is more than just one great opportunity out there.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

clip_image003P.S.  One of the best parts of this journey is connecting, engaging, and being inspired by fellow entrepreneurs.  On Thursday, November 12th in Phoenix Arizona I will be doing just that at AZEC09.  Who knows maybe I will see YOU there and we can chat.


Go Forth and Raise Whuffie

October 13, 2009

In less that one month, entrepreneurs from around Arizona and from other parts of North America are gathering for AZEC09, The Fourth Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference which will be held in Tempe Arizona on November 12, 2009.  

AZEC09 continues the Arizona tradition of bringing together thought leaders in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media together for a full day of sharing ideas, making connections, and even launching new companies and products that started with Jump Box in 2006 continues with another great new idea that emerged from last year’s conference and will be debuting this year. 

Each year our lunch keynote is a special treat, someone sharing great ideas that each attendee can take back to the office and put to work in their business the very next day.  Past keynotes have included Michael Gerber author of the best selling E-Myth, Dan Morrison, CEO of IT ToolBox, and Matt Mullenweg founder of Word Press.  This year, at lunch we’ll be hearing from Tara Hunt, author of The Whuffie Factor, as she inspires us to raise a little whuffie. 

What – you don’t know what WHUFFIE is!  We’ll let’s get a sneak preview from Tara as she answers the question …What is Whuffie?

In addition to learning how great companies are putting Whuffie to work in their businesses, AZEC09 is an opportunity to gain insights from Michelle Robson, the founder of EmpowHER, get the latest from Kevin Surace on the strategies that are helping Serious Materials succeed in the eco friendly building materials space, get the latest developments in Healthcare 2.0, hear from panels of local CEOS who generously share their secrets on how they are building great businesses,  and get the scoop from Howard Lindzon on the state of Venture Capital.

But, like everything else in business, you can’t win if you do not show up. 

And since winning is so much fun, we have even decided to liven things up with some great prizes during the day thanks to some of our generous sponsors and partners.

So here’s your chance to win.  Register now for AZEC09 and if you do so before 8AM on October 16th you can even save $50 with the $99 early registration rate. (At 8:01 AM on the 16th tickets go up to $150.)

It’s your chance to Engage, Connect, be Inspired and WIN.

I know where I will be on November 12, 2009.  How about you?

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Chairman, OTEF, The Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation

Host organization of AZEC09 , AZEC08, AZEC07, and AZEC06.

AZEC08 November 12, 2009

P.S. – You might be wondering who those great sponsors are…so here’s the list:  The Business Journal Phoenix and Infusionsoft – who have generously stepped up EVERY year, as well as Mashable, Microsoft, Affordable Image, The Town of Gilbert, Metro Studios, Pour Masters, Gangplank, Stealthmode Partners, CorePurpose, Brent Spore, Chuck Reynolds, The Performance Magazine, and  The Social Media Bible.com, PLUS our great friends and community partners at The Knight Center for Digital Media, EO, TiE-Arizona, and The Arizona Technology Council, Social Media Club Phoenix, The Phoenix Innovation Foundation, PodCampAZ.


Overcoming Challenges…Getting back Up

April 17, 2009

Have you fallen lately?  Been knocked off your feet?  Are you facing a challenge through no fault of your own?  Is it tempting to feel sorry for yourself, to think that times are too hard, to just give up? 

My old friend and mentor Don Sweet sent me this video last week.  It really struck a chord and got me thinking.

After you’ve watched this video – its hard to be negative or give up.  Few face challenges on a daily basis that are anything like this.  If Nick Vujicic can get back up and finish strong – how can we ever stop trying with the challenges we face.

We’ve seen this week that dreams can come true.  Just look at how the world has embraced Susan Boyle, a woman who lives in a little Scottish village, definitely does not look like the typical ‘superstar’ and unlike Madonna – Susan’s never even been kissed.  But she pursued her dream of being a singer.  Her dream took her to Britain’s Got Talent…that took her to You Tube where close to 20 MILLION people have watched her WOW the judges and touch our hearts with her incredible voice, and now she takes the next steps and gets ready to take her place on a larger stage.  See the newest videos on Today for more. 

As a make my way around the community, I meet with lots of Arizonans.  People who are looking for new jobs, who are struggling to meet payroll, or are facing other challenges in their lives or in their businesses.    But what gives me hope is the resilience and determination I hear when we sit down and talk.  Whether it’s over the phone for in a local coffee shop, I hear stories of people working together to make a difference, sharing ideas, asking questions, and finding answers and solutions to challenges.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Allan Starr started a new discussion forum on Linked In called Marketing Partners Memos.  An established business leader and marketing expert, Allan asked his friends questions about things like SEO and reaching customers – you’ll find of tips and advice from a number of folks in the Valley –  great ideas.
  • I am NOT a Social Media expert.  But I have friends that are.  They have helped me understand how to effectively use social Media as a tool for starting conversations.  When I put out a post on it this week, it spread like wild fire.  If you missed it and need some tips – see the ones I got from the experts and examples you can use as models at A Busy Person’s Tool Kit for Social Media.
  • For fun, I shared a quote from Albert Einstein on Facebook – “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. ”   This quote sparked such a great discussion about the power or asking questions and the importance of collaboration and partnering that I moved it to the blog so that people can keep the conversation going in an open forum.  You can join the conversation too at Question of the Day – How can I  help you?
  • Tax Day – A crowd gathered at the Capitol to share their feelings on the state of the economy, government and taxation.  I chose to skip that particular gathering.  :-)  But if you want a flavor for the issues and answers around the question at the state level see the posts  Opportunity Springs Up and Doing the Right Things in Arizona.
  • Jeremiah Trnka’s new Arizona Edition of The Performance Magazine launches next week.  Wednesday night he introduced me to some of his friends at CEO Space and we got a sneak peak.  Keep an eye out for this new publication full of great business ideas from leaders from around the country and Valley experts too.
  • Francine Hardaway of Stealthmode Partners sent me a note with and introduction to Jo Ellen McNamara, Executive Director of the West Mesa Community Development Corporation.  We met for breakfast at Chompie’s yesterday to share ideas.  What a great addition to our Economic Development community.  Jo Ellen is very experienced and is doing exciting things in the East Valley.  We could have exchanged ideas all morning!  I look forward to working with her in the future.

So, the next time life knock you down, pick yourself up.  Think of the inspiration of a Nick Vujicic or a Susan Boyle.  Find a dream – and some friends and colleagues to partner with – and go for it!

Stay Tuned…

- Joan Koerber-Walker


Is Anyone Listening?

April 4, 2009

It’s been said that ‘country music is the voice of the country.’  We have seen it in times of national crisis from John Rich’s Shutting Detroit Down (2009)

to  Alan Jackson’s 9/11 tribute Where Were You When the World

Stopped Turning (video – 2001), and Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA (video -1984) 

Cross over artists like John Mellencamp tell America’s story. Songs like  Little Pink Houses celebrated the dream of a home for everyone.  The link takes you to a video of his performance at the Obama Inauguration on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial while other songs bring the constant plight of the small farmer back in view with Blood on the Scarecrow. 

Our country’s music has reflected the voices of its people since its inception – from Yankee Doodle, to the spirituals of slaves, the rallying calls on both sides of the Civil War, Woody Guthrie’s tales of America during the Great Depression  or another popular hit of the day, Brother Can You Spare a Dime  (audio-1932). The music of the 60’s brought us Joan Baez and Bob Dylan’s rallying cries for Peace and Equality as they searched for an answer Blowing in the Wind (video-1971.)

If music is the voice of the country, I sometimes wonder who is listening. 

Each day I try to keep up with what is happening as we struggle through our current time of crisis.  Reading the NY Times, the Financial Times, & the Washington Post.  Scanning from MSNBC to CNN to Fox and reading through the Republic and the Business Journal, I look for signs of progress.  When I find them, sometimes I will send them out on Twitter or Face Book – or blog them out through Plaxo or LinkedIn.  The Challenges are out there for certain – but good stuff is happening too.  It’s important to show both sides of the story.

Don’t worry – I have no intention of penning songs, re-stringing my guitar, and serenading you with my own songs of the times.  There are others who can do it so much better and my family has begged me not to.  ;-) 

So please, turn up the volume and listen to the voices of America around you.  Use your voice.  Sing out if you have that talent.  Speak out about what you believe in.  Volunteer to help others – and while you  are there – listen to their stories.  Share a story of hope.    Every voice makes a difference – especially as it blends with the voices of others around the country.

Thanks for listening  – Stay Tuned…

- Joan Koerber-Walker


Like Finding Water in the Desert…

March 12, 2009

Oasis in the Desert courtesy of Environmental Graffiti.comToday, a friend asked me how my quest for capital was progressing? 

My answer – Like finding water in the desert

But the more I thought about it, the more apt the analogy became.  You see there is water in the desert, it’s just hidden under the sand.  That’s how oases are formed in nature.  The winds of change shift the sands until the water table is closer to the surface.  Then, even in a desert, things begin to grow.

Lately for some, it may feel as if the winds of change are blowing sand right in your face.  The trick is to look for the opportunities that may be lying underneath the surface as you see the sands shifting.

There are oases out there.  Here are some examples:

  • A friend of mine sent me an email tonight.  She owns a great and growing company.  She asked for a favor…can you help me find a key employee for my company.  I called a few friends who might be a fit.
  • Another friend in La Quinta, CA  has a new book out and started a radio show to help people look at their careers.Career Secret Sauce and the Career Mechanic. 
  • Over coffee, I got to meet with the guys who run AZ Weekly. They have a great concept and are growing circulation like crazy.  We brainstormed how they could grow more AND save money.  Hopefully it helped.
  • My social media expert friend, Steven Groves ,is coaching me on how to navigate the social media desert and use it to build a brand.  If he can teach me – he can teach anyone!  If you need help, ask Steve!
  • I found a really cool deal, but I need to access capital to make it work.  Friends from across the valley have offered to help me.  We just might make it too.
  • And as I talk to others about my really cool deal, I get to learn about their opportunities…and help them connect to others who can help them.
  • And so it continues…

“Opportunities out there, just below the surface…like finding water in the desert.”

-  Joan Koerber-Walker


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 79 other followers