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The LoCo Perspective
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Growing Gardens and People
Published by Curt Bear on June 24, 2019
Like many of our readers, I’ve been planting my garden the past few weeks, one of my favorite times each year. I’ve tuned up our irrigation system, spread my chicken manure and turned the soil, planted my seeds and starts, and cringed with each thunderstorm - fearing the hail that has wiped out too many backyard tomatoes and dimpled too many autos in our region the past few years.  

In the weeks since, I’ve watched seeds sprout and grow, and starts flower and begin to set fruit. Soon there will be a harvest of fruits and vegetables of the very best kind - the Bear’s backyard kind!  

In addition to planting my garden, this spring has also found me interviewing and hiring for a new helper at LoCo Think Tank, and seeing two past LoCo Interns find themselves new roles in the world. (Shout Out to Ellie Naasz and Elise Brown!) Both are fitted well for their new positions, and are poised for continued growth and career success. One thing we do well at LoCo Think Tank is attract great people to our team, and give them lots to do and learn. Both have told me their experience at LoCo was integral to their qualifying for their new role, and I have to say I’m proud of them both in finding great jobs and to have supported their growth in their respective journeys.  

May I Be on Your Team? I Dunno, Why Do You Want to Be Here?
Published by Curt Bear on May 31st, 2019
I’d like to begin this month’s lead-in with a congratulations and public thank-you to Elise Brown, the LoCo Marketing Intern for the past ~8 months. Elise just graduated from CSU with a degree in Economics with a Marketing emphasis, and has accepted a full-time position as a Digital Marketing Coordinator with AZDS Interactive Group in Denver beginning in early June. Elise has been a strongly contributing team member from the very start, and grew her skills and confidence throughout her LoCo experience. Thank you Elise - you get it, you want it, and you’re highly capable - and you’re fun to be around. You’ve got a bright future ahead, and we’re proud to have had you in our tank!  

Knowing Elise’s departure was coming, we posted our job ad for a part-time Marketing Communications Associate in early May. Though we’ve now had two great interns, this time we were hoping for someone with a bit more experience and who might be part of the team for longer. We used the Handshake system for posting at CSU/UNC, and did a free posting on Indeed and a paid posting on LinkedIn.  

It is an interesting position to fill, as I ask a lot from my candidates in a widely varied role. This includes administrative & tech support, graphic design, writing, video editing, marketing, event management responsibilities - and more. But, we’re still small, so there is not that much of any of it - we have only the need and budget for a part-timer, but hoped to add some experience to the team.  

We didn’t exactly know who we were looking for - we knew our needs, but not the needs of our potential applicants yet.

Longest Title Ever!: April Showers Bring May Flowers, The Mayflower Brought Freethinkers, Freethinkers Built Great Prosperity, and a Cold Civil War Risks it ALL.  
Published by Curt Bear on April 29th, 2019
Longest title ever, and apt to be a fairly long post, lest I’m careful. Did I lose you already?

Stick with me on this one please - it’s gonna be a good one. (I hope so anyway…) I’ve been chewing on this topic for months, both in internal and external conversations. The title finally came to me the other day when I was meeting with someone for the first time - we’d crossed into religion and politics within our first 20 minutes of being acquainted, and we weren’t even sorry about it. Another 50 minutes of wonderful conversation followed, fueled at least in part by our noted differences in the areas of religion and politics. We found joy in our differences, and pleasure in learning from one another about the why of our held opinions.  

But from what I read in the newsfeed and hear about on podcasts and what fuels my clickbait browsing habits - this is abnormal behavior. It’s almost becoming politically incorrect to hear a differing opinion and then to continue in conversation with that person!  

April Showers do bring May flowers - can we all agree on this one? I find it’s good to start with common ground when you’re talking with a diverse audience.  

How about the next line - the Mayflower brought Freethinkers? Freethought is generally defined as a philosophical viewpoint which holds that positions regarding truth should be formed on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism, rather than authority, tradition, revelation, or dogma. It can be especially applied to one whose religious opinions differ from established belief. Some imply that freethinkers hold to a rejection of any religious belief but I deny this as “fake news”, which I’ll expound upon below.

Cash Like a River Flows
Published by Curt Bear on March 28th, 2019
This is one of my favorite times of the year - the emergence of spring. The birds are returning from their southern climes, the trees are budding out, and the river flows are starting to fill out a bit. They won’t hit their peak for a few months however - June is the time for big water! 

Here in Colorado, our rivers are comprised chiefly of snowmelt, and our high mountains is where we receive and store most of our snow (that’s why we have skiing!). Though it is warming weekly down here, it’s still cold in them thar’ hills. And as it warms, the snowmelt takes its sweet time flowing down the hill to the stream, down the stream to the river, and down the river canyon to our small city on the banks of the Cache la Poudre River. Some of it we divert into high-mountain reservoirs, others into Horsetooth closer to town.  

Now, to transition to more businessy topics as is my habit, let’s do a metaphor exercise, with visualization. Think of the unmelted snow like it’s your business’s inventory, the snowmelt flowing down the streams and rivers are like accounts receivable, and the reservoirs are like your long-term savings account.  

Getting Mr. or Miss Market to Say "I Love You"
Published by Curt Bear on February 26th, 2019
We are a couple weeks removed from Valentine’s Day - that wondrous holiday created by the greeting card companies. Snopes - that one’s not true - St. Valentines day goes WAY back. Though Hallmark did invest heavily beginning in 1913 in the notion that a greeting card was a great way to say “I love you”. Alongside the red rose growers and diamond miners investing similarly over the centuries.  

Actually, the roots of Valentine’s day go back to the ancient Roman three-day fertility festival known as Lupercalia - traditionally February 13 - 15. Men would sacrifice goats, and whip their chosen women with the goat skins in a ritual believed to make them fertile! The holiday was later Christianized and it may have been Pope Gelasius that declared it to be February 14th during the 5th century AD. I would say the transition from goat skin whipping to cards, flowers and chocolates represents an advancement - and I’m certain my female friends would agree!  

But let’s get back to our topic, shall we? What those card makers, rose growers (and wholesalers and retailers) and diamond miners all have in common is that they provided a product or service that the marketplace - Mr. or Miss Market - found value in.  
There are many factors that go into perception of value. Businesses provide for their customer’s wants and needs of course, but all purchase decisions are not created equally. 

On Purpose
Published by Curt Bear on January 31st, 2019
You’ll read later in this issue about our LoCo Next Level speaker event held on January 30th with Zach Mercurio. Zach is the best-selling author of “The Invisible Leader - Transform Your Life, Work, and Organization with the Power of Authentic Purpose”. He has become a leading expert on this topic in recent years - helping people and organizations activate the guiding hand of purpose. He is also a CSU professor, and when we met for the first time this fall it felt like we were speaking the same language in a foreign land, and we immediately began putting plans together to have Zach speak for a LoCo event. Learn more about him here.

Oh, and if you’re wondering “what’s LoCo Next Level?” - this is LoCo Think Tank’s newest service offering - Value Driven Peer Advisory for the leaders of larger and more complex regional businesses. You can learn more about that here.

The topic of purpose has had plenty of attention in recent years. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren was a book that really impacted me early in my career and marriage, Simon Sinek’s Start with Why has become a mantra for corporate teams and individuals all across our nation - and was taken up as a rallying point for my Rotary Club this season, and an article I read in a recent Harvard Business Review was titled “Creating a Purpose-Driven Organization”. The why is all the rage these days!  

It’s a squishy thing though, purpose.

Forecasting a Merry Christmas and a Profitable New Year
Published by Curt Bear on December 19th, 2018
I love Christmas. I love the music, the lights, the time spent with friends and family, and of course the significance of the holiday for those of us who attempt to follow Christ. The crowded streets and stores I could do without, but the good comes with the bad and all in all, it’s a joyful time of year for most of us.
We’ve been working on our budget for LoCo Think Tank for 2019, forecasting continued growth in chapter membership and a couple more chapter launches projected. With our business model as a membership organization, it’s a fairly simple exercise - we know the revenues from each member, and the ratio of LoCo Facilitator expenses to that top line, and then we have our overhead expenses for office rent and tech spending, marketing and meals, figure in my meager salary and intern wages, and viola! We can project our profitability on a monthly basis, and budget when we can finally get a good office printer and Jill can have her inkjet back at home! (Looks like probably April babe…)

Forecasting is something small business owners tend to spend too little time on - to my chagrin and to their detriment. By definition, to forecast is to calculate or predict some future event or condition as a result of study and analysis of available pertinent data. Weather forecasting and financial forecasting are the two main areas of application. But these two are actually very different, because in the case of weather there’s really nothing you can do to change it (at least in the short run - this isn’t a climate change article), whereas in financial forecasting the very act of forecasting, and the activities undertaken along the way, significantly impact the outcomes.

Let’s unpack that a bit, shall we?

Profit isn't a Right or a Privilege, it's a Responsibility!
Published by Curt Bear on November 29th, 2018
Did you know? - The second-largest (behind NRA, duh) and fastest growing gun-rights organization in the US is based here in Northern Colorado. Located in Windsor, the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR for short) was founded in 2000, and has grown to become a very prominent organization, with over 4.5 million members. One of my longtime friends used to work for them, and I’ve met the founder, Dudley Brown. For some reason I always remember one of their old T-shirt designs that proclaimed, “Gun ownership is a RIGHT, not a privilege”. So, as you might guess, their agenda is basically no compromise on individual gun ownership freedoms. It’s a complicated issue, and I’m not here to get myself a bunch of new haters - but I will say that I enjoy the simplicity of their message.  

The point I mean to address is that words have very precise meanings, and something small business owners can get confused about is profit. (As can their employees, and the community at large.) One harmful notion I’ve observed is profit-guilt, where the owner feels guilty about charging enough to earn a reasonable profit. That’s a whole future article - “How to diagnose profit guilt, and what to do about it!” I’ve also known small business operators that seem to think of profit as if it’s a right - they can sit back and work only as hard as they want to, not innovate or develop new services, and expect profit to come in year after year. Darwin’s law usually weeds these operators out pretty early in their journey.  

More common still is thinking of profit as a privilege - like it’s a sought-after goal, but only the privileged few can actually attain it.

Scary Jobs!
Published by Curt Bear on October 31st, 2018
A job I had during my college days was working for the Fargodome - a sports and music venue in Fargo, ND. It was very part-time, always under 20 hours/week, and often late at night or on weekends. About half my time was spent zipping in or zipping out the artificial turf - mindless and tedious work - but it paid pretty good on the per hour, and I worked with fun people.  

The remaining time was spent setting up or tearing down for music shows and other events. Highlight: I met Ted Nugent in the parking lot one day - he was shooting his bow and arrow at animal targets, waiting for his crew to set up the show. He was nice. The role I especially cherished - and nobody else wanted to do - was to climb the trusses behind the stage and adjust where the lights were pointing, and occasionally change bulbs or similar. No safety lines, no training, no hazard pay - but I was an excellent tree climber and have almost no fear of heights - so it was a fun respite from what was otherwise a laborious role.  

But I recognize that for many, climbing up and hanging off a 30-foot high truss system built by roadies would be terrifying! Years later...

On Facilitation
Published by Curt Bear on September 28th, 2018
Only years after founding LoCo Think Tank did I attempt to define the foundations of the business model.  My interactions with business members of Vistage and other peer advisory group models, and later membership in a Trusted Advisors chapter of Vistage, convinced me of the extraordinary power of peer learning.  Likewise, my involvement in Rotary Club - where our motto is Service Above Self - was an obvious element.  The third foundational element actually preceded the others in time - my role as a Discussion Leader within an organization called Bible Study Fellowship when my wife and I lived in Colorado Springs...
On Leverage
Published by Curt Bear on August 31st, 2018
Out with a friend and LoCo Think Tank member the other day, I was introduced to a business owner with whom he was acquainted - an inventor, custom builder, manufacturer, rental business, and online retailer.  Sharp guy, very interesting as you might imagine, with a clearly successful business.  As we chatted a bit more, I learned that his multi-faceted business operation is a one-man band - no employees at all!  Tried it, didn’t work out, so I just do a little bit of everything he says...
Ask of Your Needs, Share of Your Abundance
Published by Curt Bear on July 26th, 2018
Ask of your needs and share of your abundance.  A philosophy of life in fewer than 10 words.  Not THE philosophy of life mind you, but A philosophy of life that I’ve been pondering,  and the first value of LoCo Think Tank...
My business is very like a...
Published by Curt Bear on June 29th, 2018
Many of us remember the old poem about the six blind men of Indostan who happen upon an elephant, and they wish to consider what type of creature it is.  Depending on what part of the elephant their hands fall upon, they find him to be very like a wall, a spear, a snake, a tree, a fan, and a rope.  None of these things are very like an elephant, and the poem does well to demonstrate the weakness of limited perspective... 
The 12 Essentials for Your Small Business Success Story
Published by Curt Bear on May 31st, 2018
One of the things that holds folks back from pursuing any dream is their fear of failure. We hear the stories too often, see the Going Out of Business signs, learn about the loss of nest eggs or family member investments... small businesses do fail. But many succeed, and they create jobs, build wealth for the owners, and add to the vibrancy of the local economy. Small businesses are the foundation of a community in so many ways...
Welcome to the LoCo Perspective
Published by Curt Bear on April 27th, 2018
Welcome to The LoCo Perspective. We're working to build an electronic publication that small business owners, aspiring small business owners, and even regular normal people (anyone know any of these?) - want to send to their friends! If we do it right, the content you find here will be short, simple, and valuable, with a dash of humor and a smidgen of community connection...
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