The Secret of Stuff

As children, my dad taught us how to sort pennies...dirty pennies.  We used a big sorting board that was covered with shallow boxes labeled by year.  We turned over thousands of pennies looking for 1955 double strucks.  We never found one.  We rolled pennies until our fingers turned green.  In addition to priming our immune systems, this was great training for someone destined to become the king of stuff.  

We started by organizing coins, then graduated to basements, barns, and garages; then onto the family business which was auto recycling.  

By fourteen, we had learned how to convert any mountain of stuff into a bucket of cash.  To become the kings of stuff, we used modern equipment, proprietary software, massive warehouses, fleets of trucks, and creative advertising.  The basic formula was simple: move everything to the center, sort it into smaller piles, toss the junk, containerize, label, and rack the remainder, age the rare stuff like wine, and price the common stuff to turn over quickly.

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Simple Money Borrowing and Lending Rules to Live By

In 1964 a local businessman lent my father enough money to launch his business; you could say his money, combined with my father’s ambition, underwrote the next fifty years of our family’s above-average financial well-being.  My father was able to grow a substantial business, and the lender, a man that expected very little in return, slightly profited; however, he left a lasting impact that spanned three generations.

More often than not, businesses are built upon loans.  Without loans, the world of commerce would come to a grinding halt.  If you plan to borrow or lend money, here are a few simple rules to live by:     

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Chatbots For Business

Chatbots are robotic listeners built into messaging apps that are capable of parsing conversations and processing nearly-natural language requests.  Chatbots can be configured to listen to conversations, and then to interact autonomously, or they can be directly addressed using voice or text commands.  Chatbots deliver lines or blocks of information, run connected services, and eventually they will stream app-like functionality, including custom interfaces, back to users.

Every business owner will ultimately have to pay attention to the chat interaction model.  If you have information on a server, get ready to serve it through a bot.  

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to make a difference, adopt a belief

Every time I enter a new industry my friends smile widely and roll their eyes.  When this happens, I know I’m going in the right direction.  

I am living proof that with conviction and motivation you can enter any industry as a stranger and make a difference.  

You might not get rich, but you can make a difference.  Here’s how:

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Twitter Product Advice From a Nobody

I’m exactly the type of user that Twitter needs.  I’m not a professional athlete, a celebrity, or a rockstar tech investor.  Like millions of people that tried Twitter and never went back...I’m a nobody.

The way I see it, you can do two things on Twitter.  You can Tweet (a.k.a.: speaking), or you can listen.  Metaphorically speaking, Twitter users are “listening” when they process a stream of news, info, chatter, or entertainment.

Using ‘product scaffolding’ to deconstruct the concept of Twitter, it’s obvious why regular humans struggle with it.

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Product Scaffolding

Similar to construction scaffolding, entrepreneurs can use 'scaffolding' to construct the concept of their venture.

I frequently get into discussions and debates with friends and founders about the viability of new products and services.  Product scaffolding makes it easy for me to rapidly evaluate the opportunity size, branding, and believability (is it possible).

In my experience, if you can’t describe your product or service using simple, harmonious product scaffolding, your venture will struggle.

Product scaffolding is ONE sentence:

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The Haley Pitch Every Founder Should Know

Prior to spending a ton of time on a business plan or an investor deck, create a simple Haley Pitch.  It's the most efficient way to obtain valuable feedback from advisors, mentors, and the critics you respect.

You don't need to nail it.  

However, you should be able to demonstrate that you have invested at least one hundred hours discussing prototypes, mockups, storyboards, or wireframes with potential users and/or customers.

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Big Data Can't Find Austin's Songs

Some time ago I worked with an artist named Austin. Austin was immensely talented and equally tortured. He's been writing songs since he was twelve and drinking whiskey since he was fifteen.  Austin doesn't own a computer, doesn't use social media, and he lost his cellphone number because he couldn't pay his bill.  Five managers have walked away, and he's been tossed out of venues up and down the east coast. Nevertheless, he's got a good heart, striking charisma, a commanding voice, and he effortlessly writes the kind of timeless songs that are loved by everyone that hears them.  Beyond being a bit of a drunk, Austin's biggest mistake is endlessly waiting for the rockstar bus; he's invested twenty thousand hours into being a musician...with no plan B.

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Responsible Solar Energy Farms

The earth is getting warmer and we are running out of oil.  Beyond a doubt, our grandchildren will have to rely on renewable energy to power our homes and cars. Today though, to slow global warming, to reduce our reliance on foreign oil, and to pave the way to a smarter energy future, we have to begin by responsibly deploying as many solar panels as possible.  To this end, we have to create a responsible solar energy deployment plan.

Here are some common sense thoughts that come to mind:

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Life Lessons From a Landscaper

On January 1st, 2015, after a courageous battle with cancer, Bruce R. Warila passed away.

My father was a successful businessman who built an auto recycling empire. Despite the fact that he spent his days amongst a sea of wrecked cars, bent metal, and burly men, my dad went home each day to his beloved trees, his blossoming flowers, and landscape designs. He was a junkyard dog with a soft spot for pansies, pine mulch, and asparagus.

It was there among the thousands of trees he planted, pruned, and watered that he shared the wisdom he had acquired through his keen observation of nature. He wasn’t exactly a philosopher, but if you read between the vines, his life lessons often delivered as landscaping advice were real and important. Here are just a few:

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