Shoulder challenges, not chips

A long time ago, one of my mentors told me that if you carry responsibility on your shoulders, there will be no room for chips. I believed him then, and I believe him now. But the truth is, I do have a chip on my shoulder, and lately, it’s getting larger.

The more I hear about our economic challenges and tough times, the more irritated I become. I’ve even heard some people say, “Everything is cyclical, and the economy will come back.” That fires me up, too! The fact is, things are not coming back to the way they were.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that our economy and vibrancy of capitalism will be back, and even stronger than before. But our economy, our city and our world will never be exactly like they once were. The landscape has shifted forever, and regardless of what business or industry you’re in, it is being transformed. Rapid advances in technology and communications, global competition and population trends aren’t the problem. The challenge is that we are not educating ourselves fast enough and focusing on those areas that will have the greatest impact on our businesses and lives.

What are some examples? On the national scene, Steve Jobs, the modern-day Thomas Edison who recently stepped down as CEO of Apple, has accomplished so much in his career. Jobs has two characteristics that stand out most. First, he always challenged conventional wisdom; nearly all of his steps toward success stemmed from inspired and creative thinking that challenged the status quo. Second, Jobs always pushed beyond what most people thought was possible; when he heard, “It can’t be done,” he just got fired up. He constantly drove himself and those around him to reach new heights.

Locally, I’m proud to see in Baton Rouge that some of the best salespeople in various industries are not sitting around waiting for things to happen. They are proactively controlling their destiny and sharing new ideas and solutions that will move them forward. They are figuring out new ways to collaborate, connect and serve their customers. Another example is in public education. Recently, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board created a strategic planning effort to improve the school district. It solicited community participation from the public and all stakeholders. I attended a few of these meetings, and while community participation was lower than I would have liked to see, I was glad to see the openness and the brainstorming that did take place. I applaud the school board’s efforts to seek positive change when many (not all) union stakeholders want to hold on to the way things are.

These days, whether you are reforming education or developing new product lines, you can’t let fear or conformity get in the way of discovering fresh solutions and ideas for success and sustainability. You may wish things were different, but as adults we understand that wishing doesn’t make anything so. Only learning and reaching, brainstorming, collaborating, growing and working gets a job done.

So yes, I have a chip on my shoulder, and I hope you get one too. This chip is available wherever in our community passion, creativity, innovation and endurance exist. From restaurants and real estate to education and entertainment, regardless of your industry, if enough of us get one, we won’t have to wait for things to come back!

Collaboration breeds innovation

An interesting new form of creative workspace is catching on in Louisiana and giving entrepreneurs an edge in the market. They are communal offices where small and startup companies share space, resources and overhead expenses. These open, modern workspaces encourage spontaneous collaboration and the open sharing of ideas. Spaces such as the Entrepreneurship Headquarters South, a joint venture by Louis DeAngelo, Jared Loftus and Chad Ortte, are attracting creative young people.

Anthrax mystery continues

Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, someone sent a series of deadly letters laced with anthrax to the media and to two U.S. Senators, killing five people. The FBI has for several years insisted it solved the mystery, blaming it on a government researcher who later committed suicide. But LSU professor emeritus Martin Hugh-Jones has just co-authored an article in a scientific journal that raises serious doubts about the FBI’s conclusions. Editor Tom Guarisco gives us a preview of the new findings on page 43.

A first for Louisiana

I want to invite you personally to the Biztech Online Expo. Specifically produced for entrepreneurs, business executives and managers, this event is a first for Louisiana. For 100 hours—from Tues., Oct. 4, through Sat., Oct. 8—you’ll be able to go online at biztechexpo.com and visit some of Baton Rouge’s most progressive companies. There will be a plethora of products and solutions to help your business grow and online seminars to help you grow. When you visit, you’ll become eligible to win some great daily prizes. Best of all—it’s FREE! For more information and to sign up, go to biztechexpo.com.

Make sure to Vote

Election day is coming up Oct 22. No reason not to vote. And there are some important decisions for the next four years. It appears Gov. Bobby Jindal has scared away any serious competition—and that doesn’t surprise me. I’m pleased he’ll continue for four more years as our state’s leader. He had my vote. But there are a lot of statewide races, a BESE race and local elections and I encourage you to exercise your right to vote!