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LA ON Fire – Part II
Jul 6th, 2016 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

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

— By Blake Glenn

 

Upon my arrival in LA, as always the tall palm trees, bright sunshine, and pollutant-infused smog embraced me with open arms. But, unfortunately, for the next week I wouldn’t see much of them. My immediate destiny was to be holed up deep within the bowels of the GAO office, leading efforts to turn around our fast disintegrating hopes for the $5,000,000 tech project.

When I got to the office I hit the ground running. I immediately set up a meeting with the client staff to hear their grievances. We held the meeting in the large conference room. It was windowless, barren, cold, grey, lacking in anything approaching personality, completely soulless.  It was an appropriate scene for the hellish torture I was set to endure.

All of the client stakeholders were present. Having all of them present was critical. Some of these people may have had their careers tied to this project. And even the least powerful among them still had influence and could make our team’s life miserable with their discontent and dozens of small complaints, a death by a thousand tiny cuts.

I should have put on my toxic substance defense suit because the shit began flying immediately. While I wasn’t the reason for their travails, I was now the onsite representative of the enemy. And as such, I was now the one bright red target upon which to vent their unending anger.

 

………………..

 

The grievances were many. That the new network installation wasn’t going well was an epic understatement. There were lots of bugs. That happens all the time of course. Things never go the way you expect. And like roaches in real life, you could quash a few here and there, but you could also rest assured that they would pop up somewhere else. Again. And again.

The situation was exacerbated by the engineers and technicians whose poor attitudes angered the GAO staff . The techies didn’t communicate well about problem resolutions. They didn’t respond quickly to information requests. And most damaging of all, they were simply rude to the customers, treating them like uninformed idiots that didn’t deserve the tech’s time.

My employer had made a big mistake too. They had left a hard core network engineer named Terry in charge of the onsite team. They could not have chosen a worse candidate. He was a very good network engineer, maybe even superb. But his people and management skills were non-existent. He was rude, short-tempered, and thin-skinned.

He was the Donald Trump of the geek world. But this was my employer’s fault more than Terry’s. They knew about his “personality flaws”. He should have never been the onsite team lead in the first place. But, in a moment of weakness, they acquiesced to his desire to be the man.

The other techs followed behind him because, well, he was in charge. But they weren’t happy. The customers were haranguing them relentlessly, not due to their own ineptitude but due to his. And the team recognized Terry’s inadequacies. They were ready for a change. When I arrived, the GAO villagers were so incensed with Terry that they were gathering torches and pitch-forks and descending upon the tech castle to drive him out of the building. And I think each and every one of our team members was ready to join them!

I acted quickly to take control and try to put things on the right track. Here’s what I did:

  • Immediately met with client staff as a means for them to vent their anger, frustration, and grievances. I mostly listened, and listened, and listened
  • Inserted myself between all tech personnel and client staff. There needed to be a buffer or cushion between these two groups and I had to be it
  • Immediately removed Terry from his position and made sure the other team members knew who was in charge … Me. The boss had already made everyone aware that I was now in charge. But that was a mandate from almost 3,000 miles away. I reinforced that mandate upon my arrival and included the boss in our meetings via conference call
  • Set up war room complete with crisis board to manage each problem
  • Enacted an emergency project management plan
  • Set up hierarchy to prioritize each problem
  • As a public relations move, had tech’s quickly fix a handful of small but lingering problems to show progress and ease tensions, i.e., killed several roaches quickly
  • Set up morning, mid-afternoon, and end-of-day progress briefings with client staff as a means to keep the client close to the activity. Only included techies that were necessary for updates and answering technical questions. Kept their client interaction time to a minimum.
  • Held tech staff briefings three times daily … about 30 minutes to 1 hour before client briefings
  • Threatened to drive Terry to the high open desert and remove his man-parts, Game-of-Thrones style, and feed them to the rattlesnakes if he came close enough to even breath the same air as any member of the client staff

 

Of course none of these items were rocket science. They weren’t that innovative. They weren’t going to change the world. They were all mostly just practical common sense actions needed to turn around this failing project, especially the Game-of-Thrones technique.

 

………………..

 

The primary requirements to do my job were pretty simple:

  1. Organization and project management;
  2. Thick skin to take all of the heat from the client … and my team members;
  3. Great communications skills;
  4. Ability to seamlessly transform at a moment’s notice between being a soothing “crisis whisperer” to a tough but fair ass-kicking leader;
  5. Sense of humor – seriously, some things you just gotta laugh at;
  6. Ability to combine individual profane words and phrases into new semi-lucid profanity strings targeted at non-compliant members of my team. This was a last resort of course, but proved unusually effective when used sparingly and with precision. As effective in many cases also was the strategic use of profane hand and finger movements and gestures.

 

And, while not flawless, the tactics worked. Within a week we had saved the LA project, which helped to renew confidence in my employer, which helped save the other regional GAO installations, which means we rescued about $5,000,000 in revenue for my employer. I was proud of the team coming together under my leadership to make this happen. But it was a team effort. They just needed the right leader. I didn’t have to Game-of-Thrones Terry’s man parts … unfortunately. And my boss was able to maintain his golf privileges.

The trip wasn’t all work though. One upside of that adventure was that my girlfriend-of-the-time lived in the Los Angeles area. Though we amicably went our separate ways soon after this trip, it was certainly good to see her.

Frankly though, I couldn’t understand why she brought her good male friend with her each time we met. It was good to see that she had a friend out there. Who says men and women can’t just be friends. I guess he needed her support. Going through a difficult time according to her. And he was strong. Lots of muscles. I knew she was safe. She later got married and had kids. I never met her husband. But the kids kind of looked like that guy. What a coincidence. I wonder if they’re still friends.

 

Want to catch up on Part I? Just click here!

 

………………..

 

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!

 

 

LA On Fire – Part I!
Jun 30th, 2016 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

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

— By Blake Glenn

 

In mid-June, 1995 at approximately 8:29 am EST, on a typical sunny-hazy day, a major fire broke out in downtown Los Angeles, California. The sparks from this blue-hot blaze had been smoldering at a low level for about 10 days and now threatened to burst into an inferno and engulf the U.S. GAO building. The GAO was the Government Accounting Office.

 

An aside … As a result of a brilliant and strategically considered rebranding effort, in 2004 the “A” was changed from Accounting to Accountability. Yay!

 

This was not one of the ubiquitous 100-times-a-year forest fires indigenous to Southern California. No. This one was special. It was entirely contained within the GAO building. But if not contained, it threatened to leap-frog across the U.S. and spread to Atlanta, Washington, DC and other regional offices of the GAO.

Let me set the stage for this story.

You see I was working on-site as a contractor at the U.S. GAO Washington, DC headquarters. Our mission was to maintain the information technology system at the HQ as well as several field office locations around the country. Our services included installation, help desk support, repairs, maintenance, disaster recovery, and training. In total, the contract was worth about $5,000,000.

In 1995 the contractor I worked for was in discussions with the GAO for renewal and expansion of said contract. When you’re in a contract renewal year it’s like being a professional athlete in your last contract year. You want to have a great year. Be on your best behavior. Do a great job to try to ensure another big contract to keep the money rolling in. Those titanium golf clubs don’t buy themselves you know.

Needless to say, the higher-level, and by default, mid-level managers were all in a tizzy, as would be expected. The prospect of losing country-club memberships would panic even the most fearless individual. My employer implemented a secret plan send a specialist with a particular set of skills to address the situation.

Me.

And after conducting a bit of clandestine research, putting myself and those I love in dire danger, I was able to uncover the original transcript from the top-secret 1-on-1 crisis meeting with my boss, the project manager at U.S. GAO HQ in Washington, DC. Below I’ve provided a complete un-redacted original transcript.

………………..

 

8:47 am EST: Boss called into office of GAO division director in Washington, DC to get an earful on a critical situation developing in Los Angeles, CA

9:17 am EST: Boss asks to meet me in large GAO conference room … alone

9:23 am EST (I had to make a bathroom stop): Boss provides overview of the critical situation in Los Angeles

 

Full Transcript (un-redacted):

 

Boss: I need you Blake.

Me: Of course. How can I help sir?

 

Boss: We have a major situation in LA. A raging fire has broken out at the GAO regional office there. And I’m not so sure we can contain it. It’s bad. Real bad. Our entire tech contract is in deep shit. That’s $5,000,000 ready to go poof!

Me: Hmm. I see sir. How did this happen?

 

Boss: The geeks. Those damned geeks. No people skills. They ran wild. Talking to the customers like they were idiots. Not fixing problems in a timely fashion. They’re utterly out of control. They’ve fucked it all up! Damnit. Damn. It!

Me: I agree. That’s a bad situation sir. And by geeks I assume you primarily mean Terry, the onsite project manager.

 

Boss: Yes, Terry. Blake you’re our best hope. Hell you’re our only hope at this point. You’re the sole individual that can drag us out of that quagmire. Without you I’m afraid this contract will be lost. It’s worth $5,000,000 you know. We can’t lose it. You have to save it for us. It funds my country club membership. We have to focus on the real important things in life right?

Me: What? That’s a lot of pressure sir. By myself I don’t know if I can …

 

Boss (interrupting): We’re depending on you Blake. I mean TOTALLY. DEPENDING. ON. YOU. We really are. I need you to fly into LA and fix this freakin’ mess.

Me: Of course sir. I’ll do my best. But …

 

Boss (interrupting): No buts. I mean butts are fine. I like butts a lot, just not as part of this conversation. Just make this happen. And here may be a pony in it for you if you can pull off this miracle. You like ponies don’t you?

Me: Silence. Bewilderment. Staring. Mouth open.

 

Boss: Well don’t you?

Me: Uh. I don’t know. I never …

 

Boss (interrupting): Of course you do. What a stupid question. We all like ponies.

Me: Ok sir. I can see you’re under a lot of pressure. Are you ok?

 

Boss: How about a pink one. I think I can make that happen. You like pink do you?

Me: Pink? What?

 

Boss: Pressure! You have no freakin’ idea. I picked a helluva day to stop taking my pain killers recreationally.

Me: Ok. Ok. I’ll go to LA and do my best sir.

 

Boss: Of course. Your best is all I can ask for. That and fixing this mess of course. And saving my golf privileges. We can’t forget what’s important here. Am I right?

Me: No. I’m not promising …

 

Boss (interrupting): So that’s it then. It’s settled. You’ll fly out and deal with it. I already have you booked on a flight.

Me: What? When?

 

Boss: Two hours . You better get moving.

Me: Two hours! Sir what the fu…

 

Boss (interrupting): Excellent! I knew you’d be excited and want to leave right away. You’re my main man. By the way, does my golf swing look correct? Look at this.

Me: You son of a …

 

Boss (interrupting): No reason to thank me! You know I’m an unsentimental fool. When you reach LA be sure to check in straight away. Now off you go. You’re the man!

 

………………..

 

And with that I raced home, quickly packed, and caught a taxi to Washington National Airport. The 8-hour trip to Los Angeles, including the layover, flew by (no pun intended … ok it really was) rather quickly. I had a little time to prep myself for the hellish, toxic environment I was about to walk into – angry clients, battered tech staff, low morale on both sides, and the prospect of losing a $5,000,000 contract.

After a good night’s sleep, the last one I’d have for several days, I stepped onto pavement directly in front ofthe downtown Los Angeles GAO office. It was 8:00 am sharp. I quickly glanced the bright yellow shape in the sky, adjusted my red power tie, took a deep breath, opened the glass door, and walked head-first into the raging inferno inside.

 

For the rest of the story please read part II of LA On Fire!

 

………………..

 

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!

 

 

Beware The Booger Man!
Mar 1st, 2015 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

Looney thoughts, perspectives, and insights on the world of business!

– By Blake Glenn

 

In college I did a couple of stints as a co-op student. I don’t know if schools still have these. They’re basically the same as an internship. Each co-op assignment took up a complete semester. I strategically chose to do my assignment each year for the second semester. That way I could also work the entire summer and make even more money … Booyah!

 

Wad of Bills

 

 

 

 

 

I chose to do my co-op at Wright Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, OH. My hometown was nearby so I could stay at home, i.e. my mother’s house, and save money. That’s always a great thing for a semi-poor college student. At Wright Patt I was in an office full of young engineers, all males except a female co-op student. This office was chock full of testosterone, inflated true-ish storytelling, and grandiose totally fictional tales told as reality. For instance, one young engineer claimed to have served in Vietnam. But the story just didn’t seem to add up. This type of creatively enhanced tales were quite prevalent.

Anyway, I have a tale that is neither grandiose nor fictional. It’s almost unbelievable. It’s absolutely disgusting. And it’s totally true. It happened during my first co-op assignment at Wright Patt.

Once or twice a week an engineer, project manager, or even a co-op drone like myself would deliver a presentation about a project they were working on. This was in the prehistoric days when Powerpoint and other modern tech didn’t exist. So, while these cavemen presenters didn’t paint pictures on cave walls, they did have to use “slides”. This ancient technology consisted of clear plastic sheets that had images copied onto them. The plastic sheets were laid on a machine called an overhead projector. The projector sported a bright light that helped to project the images onto a screen. All this while Pterodactyls did fly-by’s, peeking into the windows, scoping out their next delicious meal.

And remember, these presenters were very technical. Many were young. Most had minimal public speaking skills. My god almost all of them were exceptionally boring, even the seasoned speakers. A lot of people, maybe even most, dozed off at some point during these sleep-inducing affairs. One of my co-workers was notorious for using these as extended nap sessions.

 

Tired!

 

 

 

Well one day we were required to attend another one of these typical, mundane, ultra-boring sessions. As it turned out, it was anything but. I was sitting at a table with Chuck, a young engineer and one of my office mates. As I looked around the room in a desperate attempt to keep my eyes and head moving as to not tumble into a deep sleep, I fixated onto something deeply disturbing and totally bizarre. At first I didn’t think I was actully seeing this. I thought maybe I’d fallen into a lucent dream, where you know you’re dreaming and can take control of your actions. But damned if it wasn’t a dream.

I’d spotted a man on the opposite side of the room. He was sitting near the front of the room but off to the side. The room had been darkened a bit for the presentation. But I could still make out his features. He appeared to be in his late 20’s or early 30’s. He had dark hair, ear-length and wore large wire-rimmed glasses. Though he was sitting, I figured he was medium to small in height.

This man. This normal-looking man. In front of an entire room full of business professionals. This man was sticking his finger in his nose, pulling it out, looking at it, rolling it in his fingers, and then sticking in his mouth. This dude was freaking eating boogers in full view of the entire room!

O … M … F’g … G!!!!

WTF?

Did I just see that?

Again, in full view of the entire room, with no remorse, no shame, no giving much of a damn what anyone else thought, this man was going Indiana Jones on his nostrils, pulling out the content, and eating it … eating his boogers at a professional event!

Oh Shiiiiit!

I looked around to see if anyone else had seen this. But incredibly no one seemed to be paying attention. Then I caught the eye of Chuck. His face was contorted with disgust, disbelief, and total bewilderment.

Together we desperately cast glances around the room to see if anyone else had caught this. We wanted to enlist other witnesses to this unfolding freak show. We alternated between looking at this man, looking at each other in total disgust, and scanning the room for other witnesses. I remember seeing one woman sitting near this man, The Booger Man. She looked at him and shook her head in disgust. But she didn’t see me and Chuck. We couldn’t believe no one else saw this. It’s like we’d just seen a real extraterrestrial, ET. But he was totally invisible to everyone except me, Chuck, and the woman across the room.

This went on for most of the hour-long presentation. Needless to say, Chuck and I were so enthralled by this scene that we had no idea what the hell the speaker was talking about. And at one point I wondered just how much nose treasure this dude could have. He just kept going on and on and on. My god. I thought the man was going to dig a hole in his nose and I’d see his finger pop out of the nostril skin. But I have to say, he really seemed to enjoy his work.

After what seemed like an eternity, the presentation came to a merciful end. The lights came back on. The nappers rustled from their deep sleeps. And everyone started moving toward the door. Chuck and I sat there for a moment. Stunned. Absolutely stunned. I’d never imagined that the world of business would be so, uh, disgusting.

 

Skulls

 

 

 

 

 

 

But this story hadn’t ended yet. The true nightmare was yet to come.

I’ll complete this disturbing tale in Part II of … Beware The Booger Man!

 

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, he can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com

———————————————————————————————–

 P.S. – If you’re really interested in growing the tech startup scene in SW Ohio, you’ll want to join the IgniteTech Meetup Group.  Join the group. Come out to our events. Bring your energy and ideas. Build your connections.

Join us on this adventure. And help us to create a great story!

 

 

Rust Belt Rising #4: A Pivotal Moment
Mar 19th, 2014 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

 

A quest to create a vibrant tech startup scene in a traditional, conservative, hard-core rust belt town.

(Originally posted on January 31, 2014)

— By Blake Glenn 

 

World English Dictionary

Pivot:

 — vb

to turn on or as if on a pivot

1610s, from Fr., from O.Fr. pivot “hinge, pivot” (12c.), of uncertain origin. The verb is 1841, from the noun. Figurative sense of “central point” is recorded from 1813.

 

Ride The Rocket

 

Back in the 9th grade I played running back for my Junior High School football team. There were no middle schools back in those days … at least not in my city. I’d not played running back before. But I was very fast. Fast as a rocket.  And strong too. But since I was a virgin at the running back position, I hadn’t yet mastered some of the required basic “running back” mechanics.

 

For instance, switching the ball from one arm to the other depending on the position of the opposing player(s) was a fundamental tenant of the running back. Another was sticking out your arm to ward off a would-be tackler. This is also referred to as the ole “stiff-arm”. And a third was to keep your legs moving after the initial impact of getting hit. You’ll pick up an extra yard or two for sure.

Anyway, despite being a novice I was still pretty good. You might say I was the Jim Brown of my time. Oh sorry. Maybe that’s too old school. After all, he did retire from pro football in the late 1960’s to become a movie action hero. Ok let’s say I was, uhm, the Adrian Peterson of Junior High football.

One moment in particular comes to mind. We were playing our hated cross-town rivals in the first game of the season. We’d won the league the year before by beating them. And all of the expert analysts and reporters at the Junior High Sports Network (JSPN) knew it would be one of us that would win the league again.

On this particular play I was handed the ball, intending to go through the right side of the line. But their defense had stacked up that side of the field. So seeing defenders everywhere, I quickly spun around, i.e. “pivoted”, and ran to the other side. This took our adversary completely by surprise. And my blinding road runner-like speed (beep beep) took me into a wide open field.

 

Blue Sky

 

There was just green grass and blue sky between me and the goal line. Uh, that is until I saw one of their defensive backs making a beeline for me. I knew he had the angle. And a collision was inevitable. But as a power runner I lived for collisions. I loved to run over SOB’s that dared to have the audacity to position themselves between me and the magical holy grail that is the goal line.

 

 

As he closed the distance, I looked deep into his eyes … and he into mine. What I saw invigorated me immensely. When I stared deep into the eyes of my opponent I saw fear. Not just a little fear. A whole 18-wheel truck load of it. His eyes were wide as the moon and he seemed to be shaking a bit. I’m not sure exactly what he saw when he locked eyes with me. But I imagine he saw a mean, ornery, growling, snorting, wild-eyed predator, running full speed, with glowing red eyes … smoke coming from my flaring nostrils.

 

Angry Wolf

I think in that moment I had “crazy eyes”. You’ve seen those. You know … Charles Manson, Donald Trump, or maybe an ex- girlfriend or boyfriend that just realized you’re a complete jerk. As the collision unfolded … in slow motion … like the movies, I lowered my head and shoulder, bracing for impact.

KABOOM! BABAM! Our collision made a loud thunderous noise  that reverberated out at least 100 miles from the epicenter, shattering car and store windows all around. To this day the aftershocks still shake the earth a little on occasion.

 

 

 

My opponent went low, diving in desperation for my lower body, reaching up, flinging his hands, and catching my feet as he hit the ground. I stumbled for a few yards, trying to stay on my feet. But I eventually went down with a thud. There was no touchdown. But at least I’d made a huge gain with my running. I must have gained 30 or 40 yards. Or … at least I WOULD HAVE if I’d actually held onto the ball.

Remember the basics of switching the ball to the opposite hand and doing a stiff-arm?

Well I didn’t. And I lost the ball. It was recovered by the other team. And we subsequently lost the game and the league title. The ghost of that moment has haunted my nightmares for more than 30 years. Guess I wasn’t so much Jim Brown after all huh.

I tell you this story to say that, for a number of reasons, we had to “pivot” on Civic Hackathon 2014. It will not be held on February 22nd after all. We were hit with a low level of interest from programmers among other things. We stumbled, dropped the ball, and went down with a soft thud!

 

Networking

 

But all isn’t lost. Instead of the hackathon, we’ll pull together a tech mini-summit. We’ll gather up a small cadre of area tech group leaders to pow wow on the tech scene in the Dayton, OH region. It will be small. It will be informal. But it will be for sure. I’ve counted 17 or 18 groups with about 1,700 total members … all focused on some aspect of technology.

These are Meetup groups, LinkedIn groups … etc. Since many people belong to multiple groups, the actual number of individuals is lower. But it’s still significant.

 

 

So we’ll come together, pitch our tech groups, discuss the area tech scene, and tour Dayton’s Tech Town. I think this may be a first event of its kind. Now I don’t see a pivot coming for this event. But then ya never know.

You’ve always got to be prepared with a good stiff-arm … right?

 

The Looney Man

 

    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, he can be reached the old school way …  blake@LooneyExecutive.com

————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

P.S. – If you’re really interested in growing the tech startup scene in SW Ohio, you’ll want to join the IgniteTech Meetup Group.  

Join the group. Come out to our events. Bring your energy and ideas. Build your connections.

 Join us on this adventure. And help us to create a great story!

 

Rust Belt Rising #1: Seasons Change
Mar 16th, 2014 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

A quest to create a vibrant tech startup scene in a traditional, conservative, hard-core Rust Belt town.

(Originally posted on November 13, 2013)

— By Blake Glenn (aka Blakey G.)

 

The House

It’s a sunny crisp Fall late-afternoon. The beautiful multi-colored leaves cover the ground. And more glide helplessly to the earth as a slight breeze sweeps through the branches and sets them free. Some of the trees stand completely bare. Others stubbornly hold on to the last vestiges of leaf life for a few more days, hours, even minutes. The high-branch bird nests, once hidden, now are exposed to the world. Some, set free by the wind or falling branches, free-fall to earth and land with a hushed thud.

Unfortunately I can’t tell a Maple from a Fern from an Oak. I just know its Fall … or Autumn as referred to by the elite upper crest set that likely attended private boarding school with Winston and Skylar and play Cricket during European family vacations, or as we in America know it – Miami.

All of the trees will be without their clothing soon, with the exception of the Evergreens of course, those lucky bastards. It’s a change of season. The trees die out only to be reborn in the Spring. But they’re not really completely dead. There’s still some life. They’re just a bit, uhm, dormant. Most of the trees will weather (no pun intended) a cold, blistery Winter, only to spring back to life in a few months. Pun intended.

And so it is also with rust belt cities and towns.

  • Detroit
  • Pittsburgh
  • Cleveland
  • Buffalo
  • Cincinnati
  • Milwaukee
  • Dayton

Industry

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course there are many other cities already occupying a space in the Rust Belt Hall of Fame. But the cities mentioned above represent some of the best known examples. All of them have shed metaphorical leaves – middle class working people, good-paying jobs, home-grown companies, valuable new college grads, and even entire industries.

Now, in the aftermath of years-long desolate nuclear winters, all of these once-proud industrial heartland powerhouses are attempting to not just survive, but to make significant comebacks. And indeed, signs of life are popping up in each of these places from the unlikeliest of sectors – Hi-tech.

And that brings me to the point of this post. I’m living in SW Ohio, a region that includes Dayton and Cincinnati. I live much closer to Dayton. And while I had very low expectations and no intent of staying when I came back here, I’m now on a difficult adventure to gather up like-minded comrades to see if we can build a dynamic tech startup community in the region. I’m talking the kind of tech startups that have high-growth potential and might possibly attract the roving eyes of angel and venture capital suitors. I’m talking tech startups with more of a Silicon Valley, Boston, or Seattle flavor to them.

 

Man On JourneySo in January of 2013 I launched IgniteTech in Dayton. IgniteTech is a Meetup Group with one over-riding mission … help to launch more tech startups into the frontiers of business space.

We started out with a monthly happy hour to bring like-minded people together. Then we launched a monthly pitching and co-working session. And we’ll launch more projects soon. Currently there are about 90 people that joined the group.

But I’m still observing closely to see if the task is even possible. It’s a task not for the faint of heart or the meek. Many brave comrades will fall during this journey. Some will run away like Sir Robin of Monty Python’s Holy Grail quest. And a very few will make it to the mountain top.

As it stands … I don’t know if this dragon can be slain. I’m somewhere in the range of cautiously optimistic. And it’s a long-term proposition (at least 10 years). But an event called Ventreprenure Marketplace was held in Dayton on November 4th. Upon getting a polite request I conducted some interviews for my new podcast show, Outside The Valley, at the event. And it stoked my optimism just a little bit. More of my thoughts on Ventreprenure very soon.

For now I’ll periodically write this series, “Rustbelt Rising”, to chronicle the good, the bad, the ugly, the fun, and the just freaking looney in my quest to connect with like-minded comrades to build a dynamic tech startup culture in a hard-core rust belt region. I don’t know where this is going. And that’s part of the adventure. I do hope to reach the mountain top with the lucky few. But should I fall to the great dragon along the way, let it be said that I came … I saw … I tried my damndest to conquer … and had one hell-of-a-ride too!

 

Ride The RocketBlake 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, he can be reached at blake@LooneyExecutive.com

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The Rocket

P.S. – If you’re really interested in growing the tech startup scene in SW Ohio, you’ll want to join the IgniteTech Meetup Group.  Join the group. Come out to our events. Bring your energy and ideas.

 

Join us on this adventure. And help us create a great story!

 

 

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