EAA AirVenture 2016

Oshkosh AirVenture

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that the Solar Impulse project was a featured part of the 2010 Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) World Symposium on Electric Aircraft. Theairventure 2016 logo symposium was one of the many aviation activities happening during that year’s EAA AirVenture, a weeklong gathering of aviation enthusiasts from around the world.

AirVenture happens every summer in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA, and it’s a great example of an event with huge impact that can help build a regional culture. It happens to be going on as I write this post, with this year’s event running July 25 – 31. If you’re in the Midwest and enjoy any aspect of aircraft, other than just flying on commercial aircraft as a passenger, you should drop into Oshkosh this week while the airshow is on. If you can’t make it this year, consider attending in 2017.

airventure aircraft campingIf you don’t live in the Midwest, but have your own plane, consider flying to Oshkosh next year. In 2015 over 10,000 aircraft flew in for AirVenture. Many owners camp right next to their plane.

Speaking of events wrangling, how’d you like to coordinate AirVenture? The event runs for a week, has 10,000 aircraft flying through the skies above your event, has an attendance of over 500,000, has visitor from 80 countries (try getting translators for all those in a small city in NE Wisconsin!), and has most of the activities run by or coordinated by 5400 volunteers (2015 statistics).

Electric Aircraft Symposium

airventure electric aircraft symposium

EAA World Symposium on Electric Aircraft, 2010

I was involved with AirVenture for a number of years when I worked for EAA on aviation innovation. The absolute best part of that job was the electric aircraft symposiums, especially the fantastically interesting people who were involved with all aspects of electric aircraft.

Other Memorable Moments At AirVenture

I met so many great people and saw so many cool aviation displays, it’s hard to pick which experiences rank next after the electric aircraft symposiums from past AirVentures. The most memorable ones that come immediately to mind are:

  • Boeing 787 Dreamliner. This humongous commercial airliner had just recently gone into production and AirVenture was one of the first places it was flown in public. One of the Boeing test pilots was an EAA member, so that probably helped. You had to be there to believe it, but this lumbering monstrosity looked like an aerobatic jet when the pilot took it up for a demonstration flight. He was doing maneuvers that would have been impressive for a single-passenger jet. I hope I never fly on a jet that climbs as steeply, dives as quickly, or banks as sharply as that test pilot did with the 787.airventure 787
  • Martin Jetpack. The Martin Jetpack made a totally unexpected public demonstration one of the years I was at AirVenture. A huge crowd gathered when the word spread about a working jetpack. It made chills run up and down my back watching it take off and fly around the demo area. Because they didn’t have FAA clearances yet, the ground crew guys had to hold the jetpack down while the pilot stayed only a few feet off the ground (see inset picture below of the white jetpack). The best thing about the jetpack was talking with Glenn Martin, the New Zealander who spent over twenty years designing, building and testing various versions of the “personal aircraft.” The red one below is their current design. According to their website, they even have a “golfcart jetpack” now!airventure martin jetpack
  • Red Bull Aerobatic Helicopter. This helicopter did absolutely incredible and unbelievable flying stunts. He went straight up. He went straight down. He even flew upside down. I have no idea why that helicopter didn’t drop out of the sky. Amazing, but scary!airventure red bull helicopter

If you’ve never been to AirVenture, give it a try. You don’t have to go every year for thirty or more years in a row like some dedicated enthusiasts have, camping out for a week or two. Just give it a try one year — it will be a memory you’ll have for the rest of your life! 🙂

In closing, below is an aerial view of the main square on a day during AirVenture 2010.

airventure aerial view


Solar Impulse 2 Lands In Abu Dhabi: A Momentous Event!

The Amazing Journey

Solar Impulse 2An amazing journey was completed on 26 July 2016 — the Solar Impulse 2 aircraft landed in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, completing the world’s first circumnavigation flight by an aircraft powered only by solar energy.


Félicitations Bertrand et André!

Solar Impulse 2, Félicitations Betrand et André

Solar Impulse 2 began its round-the-world trip by taking off from Abu Dhabi on 9 March 2015. The trip was done in multiple legs because it was a single-person plane with an average speed of 75 km/hr, so they needed to land periodically for the two pilots to switch (Betrand Piccard and André Borschberg). The circumnavigation also had a number of delays due to technical challenges (like batteries overheating) and unfavorable weather.

If you want to watch the last 1 ½ hours of the journey, check out the official “LEG 17 LIVE: Solar Impulse Airplane – Landing in Abu Dhabi” video on YouTube, embedded below. To me, as someone who has followed the project for many years, it was an inspirational video and a very moving finale to their epic flight.

Culture And Personality Of An Innovation Team

In addition to the awesomeness of the completion of a 42,000 km journey, two highlights for me of the final hour of flight were:

  1. Design of the NEXT Solar Impulse aircraft. While talking with the ground crew shortly before landing, Bertrand suggested a design improvement for “the next airplane” — adding a slot by the window “to get the air inside” for better ventilation in the cockpit (at ~ 0:50 in the video). The Solar Impulse 2’s mission engineer landing coordinator (I’m not an aviation person, so I’m sure that’s not the correct term) told Bertrand he looks forward to working on the design of the next plane. To me that was such a cool moment. Their focus on the future and continual striving for the next improvement are two hallmarks of disruptive innovation teams.
  2. Bertrand’s personality and humor. When the Solar Impulse 2’s landing coordinator told Bertrand the airport wind conditions were four to six knots, Bertrand replied that he hoped the coordinator said “four to six” rather than forty-six! (at ~ 1:31 in the video) The cofounder of the project is so relaxed at what could be a very tense moment and is so comfortable with other team members that he can joke about a critical landing factor being open to misinterpretation.

Solar Impulse 2 Abu Dhabi mission engineers

Solar Impulse 2 mission engineers in Abu Dhabi

Those two highlights speak volumes about Bertrand as a cofounder of the Solar Impulse cofounder and about the culture of the Solar Impulse project team. That’s the kind of innovation team I would love to be a member of and that’s the type of emerging technology project I am always looking for.

The Solar Impulse 2 landing was indeed a Momentous Event, and the project was truly disruptive innovation — the first time in aviation history that a plane has flown around the world without using ANY fossil fuel. It was also, as Bertrand said shortly after emerging from the aircraft, a first in the history of energy.

Disruptive Innovations Take Time

But the landing was also a reminder that disruptive innovations are quite often not an “overnight success.” They usually take years of hard work, and they build on the work of other innovators. The circumnavigation flight took 16 months from inaugural take-off to final landing. The Solar Impulse project itself began in 2003, so it took 13 years for Bertrand and André’s initial vision to be achieved.

Innovation Teams

Innovation teams are usually just that — teams. As one of the members of the Solar Impulse team said in the above video, to them the letters in “team” stand for “together each achieve more.” The picture below shows a small portion of the team at the Abu Dhabi airport, representing Switzerland, Monaco, and the United Arab Emirates. The entire team was a partnership of many more people, countries and companies, and it took that diverse team working together to be able to fly around the world, achieving more than any of them could have individually.

Solar Impulse 2 team

Innovating In Obscurity

Another disruptive innovation lesson is that although the innovators and people they work closely with are excited about and in awe of the achievement of an ambitious dream, the accomplishment will probably happen in relative obscurity from the general public.

The Prime Minister of Monaco told the Solar Impulse team, shortly after the Abu Dhabi final landing, “You have started to write a new page of humanity’s history.” (at ~ 1:52 in the video) That sounds like the description of an event that most of humanity should be aware of. But most of humanity doesn’t know what Solar Impulse 2 is, and most are unaware that a plane flew around the world powered only by solar energy. I’ve talked to at least fifty people about Solar Impulse in the past six years, and not a single one of them had heard of the project or knew what it was. Many of those people were involved with and interested in technology and innovation. Even those whom I thought would be in the know were unaware of Solar Impulse, probably because they were focused on other technologies and other innovations of which I knew little or nothing.

Most Enjoyable Events Wrangling

When I applied for the position of Events Wrangler at Automattic, I said the most enjoyable events I had ever helped wrangle were the Experimental Aircraft Association World Symposiums on Electric Aircraft. The Solar Impulse team was a big part of what made those symposiums so special. Bertrand Piccard, Michèle Piccard, André Borschberg, and Yasemin Borschberg came from Lausanne, Suisse, to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA, and shared the story of Solar Impulse at the 2010 symposium. Below is a photo showing Bertrand, Michèle, André, and (I think) Yasemin at a breakfast gathering on the day after the 2010 symposium.

Solar Impulse Team, EAA Electric Aircraft Breakfast 31 jul 2010

I sent a “Félicitations” email to Bertrand today and told him to let me know if there is anything I can help him with. If he decides he wants to have this events wrangler / community builder / emerging technology enthusiast / chemical engineer work on the continuing Solar Impulse project or another innovation initiative he starts, I will be headed to Suisse…

To wrap up this post, I’ll close with two pictures. The first is the final landing of the world’s first solar-powered flight around the world — a Momentous Event! The second is a Solar Impulse 2 group shot at the Abu Dhabi airport. 🙂

Solar Impulse 2, Abu Dhabi Touchdown, 26 July 2016

Solar Impulse 2’s final touchdown for world’s first solar-powered circumnavigation flight

Solar Impulse 2 journey complete

SI2 group shot at Abu Dhabi airport


Communicating In A Regional Community

Distributed Team Communications Grid

In yesterday’s post I estimated the potential size of the regional TIE community (Tech, Innovators, Entrepreneurs) in NE Wisconsin.

Today I’ll start a multi-post conversation about communicating within that regional community. This topic was prompted by reading “How we Communicate at Automattic.” Alister Scott, an Automattician, writes about how most communications at his distributed automattic logocompany are asynchronous and fall into one of three categories; conversation, discussion, or publication.

“…I believe the reason that communication works well at Automattic is that everyone is distributed, so on an level playing field, and this means they can live in any timezone in the world. This also means any communication needs to be asynchronous…

Whilst email is an asynchronous communication method it is a terrible one at that…One reason email is bad is that you can’t ‘opt-in’ to a work email chain going on, so for this reason it is often the case of additional people being CC’d into the conversation ‘just in case they’re interested…One of the problems about email communication is that people try to use it for different types of communication, from a quick email to your colleague about lunch, to discussing a new HR policy, or being informed about new starters/leavers.

I’ve held in my mind an idea about different types of communication for a while now, and when I saw how communication works at Automattic it perfectly fit into this model:

communication grid, Alister Scott

The important thing to realize about this communications model is that any level of communication is opt-in.

I can opt-in to joining whichever Slack channels I choose, the same applies for ‘following’ a P2 site’s articles, or choosing to read the Field Guide. Yes, there are ‘essential’ P2s and Slack channels, but the choice is ultimately up to the individual what they join/follow/read, unlike included on email threads by various people…”

Regional TIE Community Communications

Although they are two very different groups, there are some parallels between Automattic and the NE Wisconsin TIE community regarding their communications needs. First, wisconsin red NEthey’re both a medium size group (50 – 5000 people). Second, most members of the group don’t work in the same building or even the same city. Third, both groups have relatively good internet access and familiarity with online communications tools.

Those similarities mean that at least some of Automattic’s communications methods and logic should apply to the NE Wisconsin TIE community. We could set up a Slack team for conversations, or we could possibly just create a TIE community channel on the existing NE Wisconsin Slack team.

The TIE community could use a TIE website if there was interest or need for an equivalent IndieWebCampto the Automattic Field Guide. An example of how that might work is the IndieWeb site. It would probably make the most sense to create that type of a site after the TIE community has been around for a couple years and has agreed on content or documentation which has value in being published.

The real question in the early days of the TIE community is the discussion stage of communicating — documenting worthwhile discussions and conclusions about topics of importance to the TIE community. The biggest potential problem or roadblock I foresee for using P2 posts (or their equivalent) is that Automatticians have a much higher level of commitment to each other and to their company than TIE community members will have to each other or to the community.

If we decide to connect and build the TIE community in NE Wisconsin, one of the early topics of discussion will be about how to communicate effectively within the community!

Thanks for writing your post, Alister!


Total Potential Participants For NE Wisconsin TIE Events

TIE Community

TIE is an acronym for Tech, Innovators, and Entrepreneurs.

Many posts I’ve written have mentioned the TIME community (tech, innovators, makers, entrepreneurs). In addition to the TIE member types, TIME includes makers. The reason this posts is only discussing the TIE demographic is because some makers are not strongly focused on innovation. Those makers are fine using traditional methods, materials, and equipment to “make” traditional products. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. This post just doesn’t apply to them.

Other makers love innovative technologies, like 3D printing or microelectronics. This post does apply to many of those types of makers. And they are covered by tech and innovation, even if entrepreneurism is not of high interest to them.

Connecting The TIE Community

community connectingAn email conversation I had last week discussed software patents, technology innovation, and the TIE community in NE Wisconsin. Part of our discussion related to building more connections between people in this region who are highly interested in tech innovations, emerging technologies and entrepreneurism related to those topics.

Our email discussion didn’t get into specifics of exactly what types of people would fit into the innovation community we were thinking about. Today I decided to put my thoughts on cyber-paper to help organize those thoughts. It’s also a way to continue the conversation, and, I hope, move it closer to action. That action being to start connecting more people in the TIE community.

Size Of NE Wisconsin TIE Community

One of the ways to help build a community, as I’ve mentioned before, is to have various types of community events. When thinking about or organizing those events, one of the pieces of information that’s helpful is how many people might be involved in the events. Coming up with an estimated audience, or total number of potential participants, for the TIE events does two things.

  1. Gives the core organizing team a feel for venue sizes, event budgets, communications needed, etc.
  2. Gives potential community and event supporters (partners and sponsors) a feel for how much support is needed and how big an impact a strong TIE community might make.

The population used below for NE Wisconsin is a recent and probably accurate number. Percentages I used to convert total regional population into the size of the TIE community are strictly estimates. If and when we work to connect the TIE community and have a significant number of events, we’ll find out how accurate the percentages below are.

TIE Community Numbers

  • ne wisc1,200,000 = population of the 18 counties of NE Wisconsin (The New North region)
  • 840,000 = target age, people 13 – 80 yrs old, in relatively good health (15% under 13, 15% over 80, or over 60 and in poor health)
  • 588,000 = people who will hear about TIE community if well publicized and promoted (70% of target age)
  • 11,760 = people who would say they’re very interested in TIE activities (2% of people who are target age and hear about TIE community)
  • 5,880 = people who will actually get involved with community (50% who indicated interest will be too busy or have other reasons not to participate)

Based on my 10+ years of organizing events and projects, I’ve developed a 1 / 9 / 90 rule for medium and large groups (more than 20 people). I’ve also seen similar numbers applied to levels of participation in areas other than events wrangling. From my perspective, 1 / 9 / 90 means that the 5880 (NE Wisconsin people I estimated will get involved to some degree in the TIE community) will include:

  • 59 potential leaders and initiators of events, projects, ventures, startups.
  • 529 active and contributing community members.
  • 5,292 potential participants for selected TIE events, but not generally active TIE community members.

Of the 5,880, 50 to 150 people (~ 1% – 3%) will want to actively discuss, work on, and facilitate disruptive and destructive innovation with goals of delivering 10 – 20X improvement rather than 10 – 20% incremental improvement.

My view of disruptive innovation as being 10X – 20X improvement or change, comes from (my incomplete understanding of):

Innovator's Dilemma

Innovator’s Dilemma

  • Schumpeter’s creative destruction and entrepreneurial swarming.
  • Christensen’s innovator’s dilemma.
  • Kevin Kelly’s technium, described in What Technology Wants.
  • Steve Jobs 10X principle (my imperfect memory says I first got that from Jobs, although it could have come from reading about Larry Page or some other tech entrepreneurial leader).

There you have it. An estimated six thousand people in NE Wisconsin who have a reasonable chance of getting involved in disruptive innovation in the next few years. And over five hundred people who have a very high probability of being active in broad-focus innovation events in the region. It seems a worthwhile number of people to connect from an events wrangler’s point of view and from a supporter’s point of view.


July​ ​23,​ ​2016:​ ​News​ ​&​ ​Views​ ​Roundup​ ​For​ ​Events​ ​Wranglers​

Here is the July 23rd curated smattering of recent events wrangling news and views. My goal is to have this Saturday’s items inform you or inspire you. Maybe you’ll even do something a little different for your next event because of what you read here! For complete details on any of these goodies, click the headline link and read the juicy cyber-details at the source.

What the Pokémon Go Craze Means for Venues and Eventspokemon go

Venues and existing events are already taking advantage of the popular augmented-reality game. Posting a photo to Instagram or taking a Snapchat video are commonplace at events, but now it’s quite possible that catching Pokémon will become the new norm for using phones in a social setting.

…Pokémon Go has become one of the most popular mobile apps ever, and it’s already taking over venues and major summer events. The global augmented-reality scavenger hunt, which through GPS tracking encourages users to catch Pokémon by walking to various locations on a map, has led to mass amounts of players flocking to locations…that range from event venues and restaurants to national and city parks, museums, and historic monuments.

In just two weeks, there have been a slew of community-organized events such as park meetups and bar crawls for people to gather and catch Pokémon en masse…”

So I’m going to get the obligatory Pokémon GO article out of the way first.

pokemon go 3[For those who wondered, the upper case GO is the format used by Niantic, the game’s primary creator. The “Go” format is the lazy, uninformed or misinformed version. Which I had also started using until I read a couple posts by John Hanke.]

There are many cyber-opinions being voiced regarding the longevity of Pokémon GO, as well as most other PokéTopics. Although I feel the game has a better than even chance of continuing strong for years, my main opinion is that the initial wave of opportunity is HUGE. People and organizations who don’t try to quickly and appropriately leverage the massive interest in Pokémon GO will miss out on two things.

  1. A very significant potential boost to their venture or organization.
  2. An opportunity to practice strategies and tactics for the next major innovation wave.

Pokémon GO is a product — a single game. It may be a long-lasting success, or it could end up being a short-lived, but valuable, learning opportunity.

Niantic Labs is a platform. It will be a long-lasting success. John Hanke did his Masters degree work at UC Berkeley in the mid 90s on essentially creating a platform like Niantic Labs. Before Pokémon GO, he created Ingress at Niantic Labs, which became the foundation for Pokémon GO. Before Niantic Labs, he was the lead person for Google Maps. Before Google Maps, Hanke was the founder of Keyhole, which Google bought to build Google Maps. Mr. Hanke knows what he’s doing…

If you don’t get Pokémon GO involved in some way at your next event, you’re missing an opportunity. And there’s a 99% probability that most events wranglers will be using some aspect of the Niantic Labs platform at one or more of the events they do in 2020.

[For more on Pokémon GO, see last week’s News & Views post and “Pokémon Go & Social Interaction.”]

Get Your People Enrolled in PreCheck!tsa precheck 2

Your attendees’ experience starts as soon as they walk out the front door. You can give them a smoother journey by showing them how easy it is to enroll in the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program—and by helping them do it.

Through TSA’s partner MorphoTrust, companies can arrange for mobile enrollment on site at the office as well as set up corporate accounts to pay for the program on behalf of employees…”

If you have to fly commercial airlines frequently, you probably are already in the TSA PreCheck program. If a significant number of the attendees at your future events will fly commercial to travel to your event, this article recommends you consider helping tsa precheckinterested registrants get plugged into the PreCheck program.

As pointed out by the article, the “attendees’ event experience starts as soon as they walk out the front door” of their home (or office), assuming they don’t leave through the back door of the building when they head to the airport. If they miss their flight due to long TSA security lines, or if they make the flight but have a horrible experience getting to the gate for their flight, they may show up for your event with a very poor attitude. You probably will then have to expend extra effort or resources trying to improve their attitude.

If those long TSA security lines cause them to miss your event, well, you won’t even have a chance to improve their attitude.

7 Tips to Extend the Value of Teambuilding Activitiesfacilitate success

Teambuilding activities such as retreats, community service projects, competitive games, and problem-solving challenges can be great tools for companies to strengthen employee relationships, improve communication, break down barriers, re-energize staff, and ultimately improve the work climate and positively impact the bottom line.

But those outcomes don’t just happen—they require advanced planning and follow-up. We surveyed four teambuilding professionals for ideas on how to create long-term value from a teambuilding activity…Here are their tips for extending the value of teambuilding activities…”

As the subtitle of this article puts it, it just makes sense to “keep the collaboration and communication going long after the event ends.” As I mentioned in the post “#6 Priority: Follow-Up For Greater Impact,” extending the value of events long after the last person leaves the event venue can have a multiplying effect. Doing the right follow-up will make your event far more successful than immediately moving on to your next project as soon as that last attendee gets hit by the door on the way out.

The Planner On… Balancing the Pie of Lifepie of life

In our profession, stress is quick to the plate. Those 90-hour workweeks creep up, and next thing you know, you are up at 2 a.m. scribbling to-do lists. In 2016, I set forward to allow the pieces of my “life pie” to match my priorities. Here are four tips for balancing your professional pie wedges:

  1. Make your schedule transparent…
  2. Limit smartphones and email…
  3. Cross-train your colleagues…
  4. Take your out-of-office one step further…”

Any way you slice it, your pie of life only has 24 hours per day. That’s pretty much a mixed metaphor, but my point is that most people want to get more done, and that can only be done by making better choices.

This “pie of life” post is a short one, but we can all take away two valuable lessons from it:

  1. Four is a good number of tips.
  2. Do more by delegating.

pie of life 2Google can help us find at least 44 tips for balancing our life.

Wait, what am I saying?? Google can find us 444 tips for balancing our life. At least. Probably more. But I’m a mere human. And you probably are, too. Unless you’ve been biohacking. The thing about humans is that we can only focus well on a limited number of ideas or tasks. This means establishing a list of four ways to improve your life pie is plenty to start with.

To a certain extent, each of the author’s four tips involve delegating. Rather than doing everything that everyone wants or asks you to do, delegate some of your authority and some of your responsibilities. Cross-training is especially important for delegating. The first manager I worked for when I got out of college told me the most important objective for someone who wants to be promoted is to deliver fantastic results on their high priority responsibilities.

The second most important objective is to find someone who can replace you. My manager said that if you make yourself nearly irreplaceable, bosses tend to leave keep you in your current job. If you cross-train colleagues, not only can they help you or fill in for you, but managers will be less hesitant to promote you.

The author’s four tips might not be exactly what you need to balance your hectic work life, but they are good ones to consider when you start making your life pie improvement list.

Does Your Team Say Your Mandatory Workshops Are Unbearable?weird face, kids, unbearable

Mandatory training…even trigger groans in the presenters. They are usually long, tedious and unforgivably mind-numbing as well as butt-numbing. Most of us despise them…

For those of us in the training design and delivery world, mandatory training triggers a triple-groan. Not only do we need to create or update mandatory training every year, but we also have to complete it, and then spend countless hours cajoling, begging, or threatening our trainees to complete it. So how do we move beyond the collective groan and design it to feel a little less like an annual punishment?…”

Per the previous post “Value Of Events And Meeting For Coffee” on Events Wrangling, a significant number of people recommend not going to events, or at least greatly limiting the number of events you spend time on. My daughter, wife, and sister all feel mandatory workshops are “unbearable” and should be made a thing of the past, no more than a distant and distasteful memory.

However, government bureaucracies, corporate policy makers, and professional certification organizations will never eliminate mandatory training. In upcoming years, a portion of in-person mandatory workshops will be reduced by online training and certification, but there will still be IRL events which require your butt in an event facility’s seat.

The above “mandatory workshops” post presents an infographic with ideas on how to make Torture Time Training less painful. Maybe even useful and enjoyable…


TIME Community Events: Benefits Of A Regional TIME Community

What’s A TIME Community?

The TIME community consists of Tech people, Innovators, Makers, and Entrepreneurs.

[For more details about what the TIME community is, read “TIME Community & Events.”]

timeIn today’s post, I’ll present a definition of what a regional TIME community is and what the benefits are of a Thriving regional TIME community.

One definition of a community includes “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common” and “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” When you read “community” in this post, think “group of like-minded people” instead of city, village or town.

What’s A Regional Community?

For the purposes of this post, a “regional” TIME community refers to a connected group of people sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals who live in an area larger than just one city. Examples of regions in the part of Wisconsin where I live are the Green Bay area, the Fox Cities, and NE Wisconsin.long term growth

[For more specifics on the definition of regions, see the notes at the bottom of this post.]

A thriving regional community is one that has a long term growth trend and one in which the people are well-connected and motivated to participate in some of the community activities. Listed below are the benefits of a thriving regional TIME community.

Five Benefits Of Being A TIME Community Member

Here are five important reasons for YOU to consider being an active member in a regional TIME community.

  • Meet and interact with like-minded people.
    • The TIME community makes it easy to connect with like-minded people, working on projects with them, sharing your knowledge and skills with them, and learning new skills and knowledge from them. Interacting with other TIME community members may lead to lifelong relationships which otherwise would not have happened.
  • Find fun and interesting non-work activities in the region’s TIME community.
    • When you get involved with your region’s TIME community you’ll find out about non-work opportunities of high interest to technologists, innovators, makers and entrepreneurs such as meetups, conferences, workshops, classes,

      disruptive innovator 2

      Disruptive Innovation

      and projects. You’ll also have more opportunities to launch new TIME activities you want to see happen.

  • Participate in disruptive innovation and startups.
    • A region’s TIME community can help you participate in disruptive innovation and startups with goals of delivering 10 – 20X improvement rather than 10 – 20% improvement. It can also help you participate in emerging technologies or the global economy.
  • Find a new job or part time revenue stream.
    • A thriving TIME community can help you connect with current jobs in the you're hiredregion for technologists, innovators, makers and entrepreneurs. It also helps find part time work or revenue opportunities that generate income from your region and from other parts of the US or the world.
  • Help create and participate in an improved regional culture.
    • Conservative regions’ culture and limited opportunities for people interested in work/play TIME activities result in minimal immigration of new TIME community members and significant emigration of existing TIME community members. Regions with a conservative and insular culture are poorly suited to adapt to strategies that will most successfully improve their economy in the next twenty years. Regions with a relatively stable economy but a minor tech and innovation industry sector have socioeconomic measures that aren’t negative enough to drive meaningful change unless a virtual critical mass is connected is developed to facilitate culture and economy changes.

Five Benefits Of Being A TIME Community Supporter

Here are the top five reasons for influential individuals in a region, and for decision-makers at companies and civic organizations, to support their regional TIME community.

  • Source of potential employees.
    • The TIME community is a major source of easy-to-access potential employees in the tech, innovator, maker and entrepreneurial categories.
  • Increased job creation in your region.jobs creation
    • The entrepreneurs of the TIME community are the region’s residents who are most likely to create new high-wage and high-growth companies and to expand existing companies, creating new jobs for your region. Research shows that small and medium companies create a majority of new jobs in the US.
  • Increased retention and immigration of TIME people.
    • Regions with a non-innovative culture and limited opportunities for people interested in work/play TIME activities usually have significant emigration of existing TIME community members and minimal immigration of new TIME community members. Most highly motivated people who want to drive disruptive innovation have to move to regions with a thriving TIME community to participate in work/play opportunities that are meaningful to them.
  • Building the culture for a resilient and sustainable regional economy.
    • A region without a thriving TIME community is poorly suited to adapt to strategies that will most successfully improve the local economy over the next twenty years. One challenge to improving the culture to be more resilient is that a region’s socioeconomic metrics may not be negative enough to drive meaningful change unless a virtual critical mass is connected is developed to disruptive innovationcatalyze and facilitate culture and economy changes. A strong TIME community creates additional attractive work/play opportunities for highly-intelligent, experienced, and motivated people who will drive change and improve the region’s economy.
  • Opportunities to invest in disruptive innovation and startups.
    • Supporting your region’s TIME community will bring long term opportunities to invest in disruptive innovation and startups with goals of delivering 10 – 20X improvement rather than 10 – 20% improvement. TIME community support will also create more regional opportunities to participate in emerging technologies or the global economy.

Get Involved. Support Your TIME Community.

Getting involved with and supporting your region’s TIME community means EVENTS!

Participate in TIME events. Launch new TIME events and projects. Support TIME events, projects, and groups by sponsoring or partnering with them.

If you are an individual interested in getting involved with more tech, innovation, maker, or entrepreneurial activities, contact Bob Waldron at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com. I will help you come up with a couple ways to start connecting with your region’s TIME community! 🙂

If you’re an influential individual in your region or a decision-maker at company or civic organization who wants to support your region’s TIME community but aren’t sure how to start doing that, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com. I’ll be happy to help you identify specific ways to start doing that in your area! 🙂


The Green Bay region might refer to the state-defined statistical area which has a population of 180,000, the official US Census metropolitan statistical area, which has a population of over 350,000, or it could refer to a more informally-defined area which includes people in Green Bay itself, the adjacent cities, villages, and towns like De Pere, Ashwaubenon, and Humboldt. The informal Bay Area essentially includes everyone in the vicinity of Green Bay who feels it’s worth their time and effort to get involved in the region’s activities of particular interest to them. The same concepts applies to the Appleton / Fox Cities area, which has an official US Census population of about 400,000.wisconsin red NE

NE Wisconsin officially refers to 18 counties in the northeast section of Wisconsin with a population of 1.2 million, but more informally, and for the purposes of this post and the TIME community, refers to people who are:

  • In the Green Bay area, the Appleton / Fox Cities area, and the Fond du Lac area.
  • Located close enough to US-41 between Fond du Lac and Marinette to be interested in and participate in activities in other cities along the Hwy 41 corridor.
  • Located outside the Hwy 41 corridor (in large cities like Sheboygan, medium-size cities like Sturgeon Bay, and smaller villages or towns like Bailey’s Harbor or Keshena) who are interested in and participate in activities in other cities in the 18 counties.


Digital Fertilizer Meetup & The NE Wisconsin Startup Community

July 11 Meetup — Digital Fertilizer Startup Community

digital fertilizer meetupA Digital Fertilizer (DF) mostly-monthly meetup for the NE Wisconsin tech startup community is happening tonight, July 11, 2016, from 6 to 8 PM, EST, at The Green Room Lounge in De Pere, Wisconsin, USA. Tonight’s meeting topic is:

DF Presents: Ben Johnson, The Designer of Tales, Wrestler of Whales — Through storytelling and visual experimentation, Ben Johnson and his team at Elegant Seagulls have helped companies like Forbes, ESPN, and Peak Designs connect, convert, and conquer. Ben will be talking about the Green Roomimportance of design storytelling, having empathy for your users, and not being afraid to go for it!

The DF meetup group was founded April 4, 2013 by Chris Schmitz and five other NE Wisconsin tech startup enthusiasts. Meetup.com currently indicates this group has 422 members.

The Organization — Digital Fertilizer

Digital Fertilizer’s mission is to strengthen the high-growth startup community of Northeast Wisconsin by connecting, educating, and empowering a network of entrepreneurs.

digital fertilizerDF was launched a couple years ago (2013?) and appears to have had three cofounders. In a DF launch post, Chris Schmitz said:

“…there seems to be a competitive relationship between many cities in NEW [northeast Wisconsin], but I believe we can only sustain a startup community if we turn that into a collaborative relationship. It’s great for each city to have events and resources for people and businesses only in their area, but they have to tie into something bigger. One of the goals of Digital Fertilizer is to provide an accelerator program for fledgling startups, but there’s no way we can do that sustainably without the infrastructure to support it, and that needs to built up by everyone interested in startups in NEW.

Another big challenge is going to be getting the local education system and startup communities brad feldgovernment agencies to help in cultivating entrepreneurship and providing people the skills necessary to build high-tech, high-growth businesses. Most of the business in the area is focused around manufacturing and lifestyle businesses…if we want to become a community that produces startups we need to devote resources to creating the necessary components to sustain them.

…The local government and investors are ready to supply resources to cultivate these types of businesses, but the movement must be entrepreneur led, and right now there is too large of a disconnect between the entrepreneurs and innovators to build anything substantial. Digital Fertilizer aims to change that…”

Chris was interviewed about Digital Fertilizer and the NE Wisconsin startup community xconomyby Xconomy in 2014. Below are some of his comments.

“…There’s definitely momentum, but it’s still relatively small…Events like Startup Weekend help a ton. So many connections are made over that weekend, and it pulls some people out of the woodwork. We’ve got a lot of students involved in the tech scene…we have to get young people excited about it; otherwise if they want to do anything with a startup, they’re going to go to Milwaukee or Madison.

Why is it important to form tech startups in this area?

I think it’s really the only way to battle the brain drain that goes on here. All the good developers I know, ask any of them why they stick around this area, it’s because they’ve got family here. They work remotely for a startup. In order to…improve the economy and get some startups to stay here, you need more resources. You need to give them a space…to connect with each other and with investors. That being said, it’s going to take a commitment from someone, probably a successful entrepreneur who is willing to put some money and time into the community…

…There’s not a lot of deal flow, not a lot of stuff going on up here. I do think there’s a lot more money up here. There probably could be a lot more angel investors up here, if they could be educated about early-stage investing.

I don’t see a lot of entrepreneurs coming out of any of the colleges around here. Also the curriculum that they teach for computer science degrees is dated. If they updated their curriculum to focus more on more up-to-date Web technology [like Ruby on Rails], I think that would help a lot…”

Insights About NE Wisconsin Startup Community

Chris had a number of insightful comments in the items above about the startup community in NE Wisconsin.

  • wisconsin red NE“…there seems to be a competitive relationship between many cities in NEW…we can only sustain a startup community if we turn that into a collaborative relationship…”
    • Chris was correct, and as of mid-2016 I’m not aware of any significant improvement in collaboration between cities to support and expand the region’s startup community.
  • “…big challenge is going to be getting the local education system and government agencies to help in cultivating entrepreneurship and providing people the skills necessary to build high-tech, high-growth businesses…”
    • I don’t know if Chris had specific programs or assistance in mind regarding education and government, but I don’t think there has been significant improvement on this topic since 2013. There are likely education or government activities happening to support the startup community that I don’t know about — but isn’t that sort of the point? People need to hear about these activities if they’re going to be effective. The only education / government startup community activity I can think of that sounded at least slightly successful is the entrepreneur program for UW Oshkosh students led by Colleen Merrill.
  • “…if we want to become a community that produces startups we need to devote resources to creating the necessary components to sustain them…”
    • It seems like the lack of effective, visible, and significant support for the region’s startup community is because NE Wisconsin communities, organizations, and influential individuals:
      • Don’t want to or aren’t able to work together to build and support a strong regional startup community.
      • Don’t want to or aren’t able to effectively publicize available activities supporting the startup community.
      • Don’t view the region’s startup community as a priority area for investing significant resources.
      • Haven’t been pitched comprehensive and compelling proposals for supporting the startup community.

As far as I know, the two main accomplishments of Digital Fertilizer from 2013 to 2016 are:

  • Regular meetings (most months)
  • Startup Weekend Green Bay (2014, 2015, 2016)

OpenCoffee weekly entrepreneur meetups were happening for a while in Green Bay and Appleton, but participation in those declined, and I think OpenCoffee is pretty much gone or in hibernation.

Future Possibilities — Digital Fertilizer & NE Wisconsin Startups

So the question at this point seems to be, “Is it possible for Digital Fertilizer to build a connected and supported startup community in NE Wisconsin?”

startup communitiesThe past three years says the region’s startup community isn’t at the tipping point. A lot of energy and time has been put into Digital Fertilizer and related startup community activities, but it doesn’t seemed to have reached critical mass. As of July 2016, I still don’t think NE Wisconsin has the reputation or the startup support resources needed to create a Schumpeterian swarm of hundreds of startups which would lead to disruptive innovation, a boost to the regional economy, and a highly-visible startup community.

Here are a few ideas related to DF that might be worth considering to help the NE Wisconsin startup community get to the next level.

  • Maximize member value (422 registered members)
    • Ping members annually
    • Find out what members would value from DF
    • Spinoff events for specific member niches
    • Member directory / gallery like Portland, ME
    • Viable implementation of OpenCoffee
  • Startup launch platform
    • Community entrepreneurial and tech organization partnerships and support
    • Pre-seed grants and investments
    • Facilitate monthly or quarterly startup launches
    • Up-to-date directory of NE Wisc startups
  • High level of visible college involvement (20+ colleges in region)
  • Archived videos of speakers / presentations, like TC New Tech
  • Revive Web920 (webdevs, designers, entrepreneurs)
  • Regular website content, news and posts (only 11 posts in 2 ½ years)
  • Startup community calendar
  • Regional presence outside Green Bay and De Pere
    • Appleton Makerspace (had two very successful DF meetups)
    • Oshkosh / UWO
    • Other cities in NE Wisc


Didn’t mean to do a long post. Covered a lot more than tonight’s DF meetup… The above suggestions are meant to spark discussion and increased activities that support the NE Wisconsin startup community. If you want to meet for coffee and conversation about anything above, let me know! 🙂

I’m working on developing an initiative to connect disruptive innovators throughout NE Wisconsin. If that venture launches and is successful, I’m sure we’ll be collaborating with and supporting DF as much as possible!

Tomorrow’s post will likely be a short overview of tonight’s DF meetup.


Relationship-Building Events

Interactions ⇒ Relationships

relationshipRelationships are created when two people interact.

That relationship may be a temporary relationship that dies as soon as the initial interaction is finished. On the other hand, the initial interaction might be very enjoyable for both people, and the resultant relationship could be very deep and meaningful and last for a lifetime.

Most intentional relationships are somewhere in between those two extremes. By intentional, I mean that at least one of the two people initiated the interaction with a reason or purpose in mind. Just like there is a wide spectrum of relationships, there is an equally wide spectrum of reasons to initiate a relationship. Some reasons are really good, some are very bad, and most are in between.

And just like there are reasons to initiate relationships, there are reasons for writing today’s post about relationships. Here are the four main reasons for this post topic.

  1. relationship 5Events wranglers should always be thinking about relationships when they plan and run events. Ergo, it’s a fitting topic to write about on this blog.
  2. Relationships will be an essential part of a new venture for NE Wisconsin disruptive innovators.
  3. Relationships will be an essential part of the Baby Boomer Gold Rush I wrote about last week.
  4. I enjoy building relationships and expanding my networks.

Ingredients For Growing Relationships

relationship 2Here’s something to think about regarding relationship-building events. Just like growing vegetables in your summer garden, or perhaps growing flowers around your yard, certain ingredients are crucial to survival of both plants and relationships. Plants need good soil, moisture, nutrients, proper light, and appropriate temperatures to live and thrive. The following items help relationships start, grow and flourish. Keeping these in mind when organizing events will contribute to the start and growth of relationships for your event goers.

  • Opportunities and time to interact
  • Empathy
  • Complementary personalities
  • Shared interests
  • Shared experiences
  • Shared language and jargon
  • Shared passion
  • Shared goals
  • Shared futures

I’ll get into more detail regarding those essential ingredients for a relationship in a future post.

Types Of Relationship-Building Events

Two people can interact in many settings and situations. Some situations are more likely to create a lasting or beneficial relationship than others. Below are a few settings with high potential for starting a long term relationship or enriching an existing one.relationship 6

  1. Meet For Coffee (or Lunch, or Happy Hour)
  2. Group Meal
  3. Monthly meetup for like-minded people
  4. Workshop
  5. Tech Cafe Learning Session
  6. Team Working Session
  7. Unconference (like BarCamp or WordCamp)
  8. Conference, Seminar, and Trade Show

There are a zillion things to say about each of the above relationship-building events. relationship 4Thousands of books have been written about this topic, and many people earn all their income from building or strengthening relationships.

Each of the eight types of events listed above for building relationships will be covered separately in posts in the upcoming weeks. Writing these posts may prompt me to think of important types of interactions focused on building relationships that I forgot to mention. If it does, I’ll revise the above list and also discuss those additional types in posts.

Start A New Relationship!

Want to start a new relationship?

If one of the following statements applies to you, please contact me (Bob Waldron) at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com — you can initiate a new relationship, and we’ll see where it goes!coffee, let's meet

  1. You’re highly interested in disruptive innovation, especially in NE Wisconsin.
  2. You’re a Baby Boomer Creative who wants in on the Gold Rush mentioned in last week’s post.
  3. You’re an events wrangler who wants to discuss topics mentioned in this blog.
  4. You’re not an events wrangler, but want to discuss topics mentioned in this blog.
  5. You want to make interesting things happen, and you think I might be able to help you do that!

We can meet for conversation and coffee or other beverage at your convenience somewhere in NE Wisconsin.

If you’re not located in NE Wisconsin, we can talk via your preferred communication medium, such as email, text, IRC, Slack, voice call, video call, or ?? If you’re located in Arcata, California, USA, I’ll meet you at Don’s, Toni’s, Los Bagels, the Beachcomber, the Seascape, or other location of your choice! And if you’re in Québec, Canada, we’ll meet at Tim Hortons!! 🙂

I look forward to talking with you, finding out how I can help you, and discussing why and how we might consider working together Making Something People Want.


Baby Boomer Creatives: America’s Next Gold Rush

Klondike ==> 49ers ==> Senior Creatives

gold rushAmerica has another Gold Rush just waiting to happen!

It’s a gold rush that will be uncovering, connecting and investing the untapped time, talent, energy, and resources of older American creatives who want to be a vital part of an economic and innovation resurgence in the USA.

Vast numbers of older Americans are creatives, also called doers. They’re people who want to learn, make things, build stuff, or start businesses. They don’t want to spend their days just playing golf or sitting at home watching TV. These individuals are bundles of restless energy who have an itch they can’t scratch — they want to be more productive but don’t where to start.gold rush 2

Maybe they’re not given the opportunity to be creative at work, or they don’t feel they’re working on stuff that matters. If retired, they may feel like there’s a lot more they want to do with their life. They might be an entrepreneurial person who grew up in a time when most people planned to work in one profession or job for all their life, so they didn’t even consider creating a new company. Or maybe they are someone who enjoys new technologies, like 3D printing, robotics, virtual reality, or microelectronics, and they’d like to be involved with that technology in a startup venture or innovation project.

These gray-hair creatives fit into one of three categories.

  1. Baby Boomers who have retired.
  2. Baby Boomers who have not yet retired.
  3. Older members of the post-Boomer generation who have retired or are thinking about it.

Retiring Retirement

The recent article “Retiring Retirement” talks about the growing ranks of healthy people who’ve passed the 65 year mark without even noticing it. Many in this group are still going strong and look forward to ten or twenty more productive years.healthy seniors

“…The percentage of citizens age 65 and older is expanding…from less than 10 percent in 1950 in the United States, Western Europe, and Japan to a respective 20, 30, and 40 percent by 2050…“We’re going to see something we’ve never seen before—people in their 60s, 70s and 80s who want to continue working and remain connected.”…Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65, and every day, more and more of them are just as fit as me. Society may still view able, competent, sound-of-mind seniors as happy curiosities. But the fact is we are quickly becoming a sizeable demographic…“Today’s seniors are healthier, better educated, and more productive than ever,” Johnson says. “The challenge we face is finding ways to harness their talents…”

From my point of view, the challenge is not so much “finding ways to harness their talent” as it is CONNECTING.

  • Connecting with the sound-of-mind senior creatives.
  • Connecting senior creatives with each other and with younger people.
  • Connecting senior creatives with projects, ventures and adventures.

Senior Creatives & NE Wisconsin Disruptive Innovatorsdisruptive innovator

In yesterday’s post on this blog I talked about the initiative I’m launching to connect disruptive innovators in NE Wisconsin. Closely related to that initiative is the issue described in today’s post — connecting sound-of-mind senior creatives.

A few of the senior creatives are disruptive innovators who want to be on the bleeding edge, love to work with emerging technologies, and shoot for 10X world-changers rather than 10% incremental improvements. But the majority of senior creatives are more interested in working on useful creative projects, products or ventures which are less risky and less likely to fail.

disruptive innovator 2Both personalities are needed; neither one is better, and neither is good or bad. Success comes about when the risk-takers and the risk-averse work in the same direction, sometimes together and sometimes separately.

We’re focusing primarily on NE Wisconsin for the project to connect disruptive innovators. I’m sure the network we build will include disruptives from outside this region, but most of the effort will be local.

However, it feels like there are nationwide possibilities for an initiative to catalyze this new American gold rush. Before deciding how to approach this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I’m going to talk with smart people and bounce a few ideas around. Then we’ll develop a laser-focus plan for connecting senior creatives in the upcoming 21st century gold rush.

If interested, join me for exciting times ahead!

[As always, if you want to discuss topics covered in this post, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.]


For those Baby Boomer Creatives who aren’t sure if now is the right time to get involved in fun, interesting, exciting, or innovative ventures and projects, listen to “Wasted On The Way” by Crosby, Stills & Nash.

I am older now
I have more than what I wanted
But I wish that I had started long before I did
And there’s so much time to make up everywhere you turn
Time we have wasted on the way