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My New Board Game Obsession!
Mar 25th, 2016 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

Blake Glenn’s Looney thoughts, perspectives, and insights on the world of business!

— by Blake Glenn

 

I began recently to buy board games. You know – Monopoly, Risk, Operation, Clue, Battleship, Stratego … etc.

A few weeks ago I was in a Goodwill store looking at some other items I could sell online as a profitable hobby and saw a couple of board games that I remembered playing as a child. So I bought them. Even though they were used, for about $3 each they were a bargain … as long as they were complete with all of the pieces of course. Initially this started as a sentimental trip down memory lane as I looked for any of the games I played in my youth. Then on a whim I took to the Internet to see what these things might sell for.

It turns out that some of them can bring a decent price, depending on rarity, vintage, and demand. And that extremely rarefied air of highly valuable used board games can sell for 100’s of dollars, some even 1,000’s. So I honed my eye a bit more to move from pure sentimentality to a more business-like approach, seeking potential profit. While I don’t expect to find a boatload of those rare golden gems, maybe I can make a little money each year from a new hobby. Buy for $3 and sell for $20 to $50. Not a bad profit.

Lately I’ve found myself stalking area Goodwill stores. Employees from at least four area stores now shout my name when I enter. And I even pitched signs in the toy area staking the board games as my own claims, just like in the gold rush days! When I’m in a store I strongly encourage other potential board game miners to move on. Phrases such as “Go on … Get!” and “This here be my claim”, are usually enough to get people to move on. If not I’ll add a snarl or growl, jump up and down, and flash an open mouth showing several missing and discolored teeth. It’s just a simple prosthetic device that creates the desired effect. After a proper fitting, you just slip it around your gums and Voila! – instant 1880’s gold miner mouth!

While staking my claims I came across some interesting games that were focused on finance, business, wagering and/or strategy.

These included:

  • Power Barons
  • Advance To Boardwalk
  • Payday
  • Billionaire
  • Scotland Yard
  • Conspiracy
  • Trump: The Game (yes … THAT TRUMP!)
  • Sharp Shooters
  • Othello
  • Pit
  • Stocks and Bonds

 

As a result, I’ve become very interested in how/if these games can help to develop strategy and business management skills. I’m also developing a live quiz game show targeted to the business market. And I want to see how these games can inform my game show development. So I plan to play each of the board games at least 3 times.

 

Anyone interested in a monthly (or bi-weekly) board game gathering, maybe eventually morphing into a tournament?

 

In the months that follow I’ll update my board game collection progress as well as the business quiz game show creation. I’ve tested the game show concept 2 times so far. It went ok each time. But completion is still a ways off, unless of course a well-heeled corporation is interested in the education and entertainment such an event could provide its employees. In that case it’s ready to go right now.

In the meantime, I’m happy to inform you that I found another board game gem – Barbie Miss Lively Livin’:

 

“This rare 1970 board game comes with a colorful box, a beautiful paper tiara, an intact psychedelic board, one die, 2 medium metal hoops (not sure if these are original pieces or previously used improvised entry-level ear-rings for 8-year olds), and several other playing pieces. Only one listing on eBay. All offers over $100 will be duly considered, maybe even some under.”

 

P.S.   Delivery will be delayed until I’ve played at least 3, uh, 5 times. This play time is crucial to my research into board game strategies. Now time to get my Barbie on!

 

Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via  The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?

 

If you dare, I can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com

 

P.S.  I’m actively recruiting test contestants for my business game show experiment. Interested? Please contact me so I can add you to the player pool!

 

 

 

The Case Of The Missing Equity! … Part II
Mar 9th, 2016 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

A true story taken from the (Mis-)Adventures of The Looney Executive.

 

If you missed The Case Of The Missing Equity – Part I, it might help to catch up on the chaos of this tale and then come back for the rest!

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

So all of that insanity set the stage for a chaotic, unfocused, middling, small business pursuing government contracts. Having advised a handful of distressed small businesses I’d become somewhat of a distressed biz profiler. I’d seen the story before. And the evidence was laid out in plain sight for all to see.

 

  • No core strategy.
  • No focus.
  • Poor leadership.
  • No bread and butter clients (i.e., clients that brought consistent revenue).
  • No nothing else that was superior or unique or special that could be exploited.
  • Chaos all around.

 

Since he and I shared an office I’d been talking to him on a daily basis. I knew the strategy because I was helping to develop it, or at least I tried. He changed it almost weekly. This was an act of desperation. And I understood. I’d been in the desperate zone myself. But my strongly encouraged advice of developing and executing a core strategy went unheeded.

One week the focus was on applying for government certifications. The next it’s on contract bidding for items outside of his niche. We bid on a few contracts. Won none of them. Winning government contracts is a volume game. The competition can be fierce. So in order to be successful, you need to produce lots of proposals. It was a jungle where only the strongest, and best-connected, could thrive. We also discussed a few unique ideas that we could launch. These were ideas that would bring his thinking more in line with that of a tech startup founder. But Ricky just wasn’t of the mindset to think, and act, too creatively. On top of it all, Ricky was focused on his PhD studies. So he’d spend large parts of days doing school work and not addressing the severely damaged ship careening toward a fiery crash.

And yet part of the promo (before I arrived) included such typical and overused mantras as “highest quality”, “number one company”, “most experienced” … huh?

Even with that I was a little surprised when one day, out of the blue, he broke the news of layoffs for some of his small staff, including me. My surprise was not the layoff itself, but that he didn’t give a heads up, and frankly that it didn’t happen sooner. But he offered what he thought was a carrot to keep us engaged. He offered us an equity stake but …

 

There was no “there” there.

There was nothing original that was being produced.

There were no long-term contracts.

There were no patents or other valuable intellectual property.

There was no A+ management team.

 

And there was a lack of trust too.

On more than one occasion Ricky told a staff member that paychecks were on the way when they hadn’t even been mailed yet. He was buying time. Not communicating with staff. Operating on the edge. Sometimes when the landlord came by to collect, Ricky would pretend to not be there. Why the landlord felt the need to collect in person was an interesting phenomenon in itself. Perhaps he too had been told one time too many times that the check was in the mail.

As the team gathered in a meeting to discuss this dire situation, I just asked a couple of entirely reasonable questions. I didn’t want to say outright that equity-for-work was a damned horrible idea and embarrass him. But I needed to know. When I asked the legitimate question of how much he currently valued the company, he blurted out an exorbitantly high number. When I followed up with the question of how he arrived at that number, he became a bit irritated and defensive. He said that he could create any value he wanted.

Clearly he was delusional. I didn’t see this as an outright attempt at fraud. He was desperate. He wanted to think that his hard work over the years translated into something of great value. Unfortunately, like for most of the hard-working 49er’s of the California gold rush, it didn’t.

This model he’d chosen to pursue was a dead end. He may get a few contracts here and there. But without a clear focus, a good strategy, and great leadership he was destined to pilot this ship aimlessly through the coldness of space until it eventually simply crashed.

 

After evaluating the situation my advice was simple:

  • Shoot this miserable, suffering beast as a means to a merciful death.
  • Kill it quickly and decisively. He, and it, would not have to suffer any more.
  • Get a job. Save money. Pay off the bills.
  • Develop better ideas.
  • Start fresh in a couple of years.
  • Better yet, pursue acquisitions as a path back to entrepreneurship.

 

But if he was crazy enough to keep going as a startup entrepreneur … start over with a core strategy around one or two unique ideas in a space that was not a low-profit, commoditized jungle.

Ricky did get a job for a while. But, ignoring my advice, he kept the company open for business doing the same thing. A couple of years later, after I was gone from the DC area, he told me he had moved into a new office park. Same business model though. I always wish him the best. I hope he succeeds.

But the old saying is true … sometimes you just can’t teach a stubborn old dog new tricks.

 

Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via  The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?

 

If you dare, I can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com

 

P.S.  I’m actively recruiting test contestants for my business game show experiment. Interested? Please contact me so I can add you to the player pool!

 

 

The Case Of The Missing Equity! … Part I
Mar 1st, 2016 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

A true story taken from the (Mis-)Adventures of The Looney Executive.

 

Way back in 2008 I worked briefly for a very small tech company. The founder, and sole owner, was a friend of mine. We met in college. Let’s call my friend Ricky. Over the years Ricky and I both tried our hand at entrepreneurship. His sole focus has been on trying to build a company around bidding for government contracts. He didn’t have a “Silicon Valley” mindset. He wasn’t focused on developing original, “disruptive” ideas that targeted a unique “space” and led to billion dollar IPOs – just simply bidding on government contracts. The DC/Northern Virginia/Southern Maryland region is ripe with so many entrepreneurs chasing the same elusive but potentially profitable dream.

At the time, Ricky desired someone to come in and provide a much needed dose of strategy and marketing for his fledgling, middling enterprise. So he asked me to help out. Over the years, as we discussed our entrepreneurial adventures, I never got a clear sense of his focus. And when I actually went inside the company I saw some things that surprised me. First, he wasn’t running his business full time. He was actually working for a large aerospace company part time. In understood this of course. You have to pay bills. And he had kids to support. But he was driving to Philly for his job. That was a 2-hour drive one way. Good thing it was part-time.

Secondly, he was bidding on supplying low-margin, commodity electronic items of all types to government agencies. As I found out in short time, literally anyone could do this. Being an expert in electronics was unnecessary. Just connect with a distributor, set up in your home, go to certain web sites for the solicitations, apply for a certification or two, put pen to paper (metaphorically of course) to bid for contracts, and voila! – you were a new very low-overhead competitor. The barriers to entry were pretty non-existent. So, because he leased a fair amount of office space, Ricky was already at a disadvantage.

Thirdly, a massive storm cloud had overtaken his operations. Let me explain. Shortly before I arrived, there was some major internal drama. Ricky fired one of his employees. Let’s call her Diane. Diane had set up her own operation using HIS equipment in order to compete against him for the same bids. But wait, there’s more.

Diane was also the sister of Ricky’s former long-time girlfriend (and mother of his 3 children), Tanya. Tanya also worked for Ricky. And she had convinced him to hire her sister Diane against his better judgment. Diane had been relieved of her previous job under cloudy circumstances. It appeared to be some level of financial misconduct, maybe embezzlement. This woman already had a history of corrupt-minded activities, which is why Ricky didn’t want to hire her. But he did it to appease Tanya. Tanya thought it would be a fresh start for Diane. Well as the saying goes, it’s hard to teach an old crook new tricks, unless they’re crooked tricks.

After Diane’s treachery, the nuclear fallout from this fiasco also emptied into family relationships as Diane and Tanya went on the warpath against each other, dragging their siblings and parents into the fray. Those extended family gatherings must have been so very interesting.

And there was a bit more intrigue going on that Ricky had actually created himself. On behalf of his employer, his job was to work with small businesses that provided products and services to the company. Over time he developed relationships with several vendors. One of those vendors built proprietary cables for Ricky’s employer. One day the owner decided to sell his little venture. And Ricky decided to buy it … without his employer’s knowledge. In short time his employer discovered that Ricky had acquired one of its small suppliers. So this employer was paying him, already an employee, to make cabling products for them through the guise of the company he acquired.

And how did they find this out?

Well Diane of course. She called and told them. Diane may be going down in flames but she certainly wasn’t going alone!

But Ricky’s employer couldn’t prove that he’d done this. They called his office a couple of times. But they got nowhere. Ricky was smart enough to operate the acquired company under its original name. Soon however, Ricky was relieved of his part-time gig. Unless, a company arranged an Enron-like bifurcation of subsidiaries, ferreting out the true ownership of any venture would take just a little digging.

Whew! Is your head spinning too?

Not to worry. Let’s take a breather. I’ll finish this story in Part II of “The Case Of The Missing Equity!”

By that time I hope your head-spinning, and dizziness, will have subsided.

 

Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via  The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?

If you dare, I can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com

 

P.S.  I’m actively recruiting test contestants for my business game show experiment. Interested? Please contact me so I can add you to the player pool!

 

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