Wednesday, May 11, 2022

A Hawaiian Sojourn

Author: Dara Alvarado

As we are getting into warmer weather here in Kansas City, and, finding myself hard at work inside, it’s hard not to reminisce about my time in Hawaii last October. I was lucky enough to visit Maui in October. My husband and I went for about a week.

It was our first time traveling to Hawaii and we had a connecting flight through LAX. We went through security, got to our gate, checked our tickets (awesome, a two-hour flight), engaged in some people-watching, and had some snacks while waiting for the plane. Fast forward—we are onboard and flying. One hour passes. Two hours pass. At three hours, I begin to wonder. I turn to my husband and ask, “Why are we still in the air?!” Yes, you’re right—the flight was actually six hours instead of two. We did indeed land in Hawaii two hours after our departure from Los Angles, but we forgot about the time difference.

We were exhausted from our supposed two-hour flight, but seeing this scenery definitely made the six-hour plane ride worth it. We drove to our first stop where we had an Airbnb for a few days. We stayed on the north side of the island – more remote and more scenic than the west side. Below is the view from our window.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Brian Klaas, Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us (Scribner, 2021)

It’s a view of human nature that we all accept. It tends to shape how we view our political affairs, our economic institutions, our business practices, and really any realm of human endeavor. It is expressed as an aphorism of only two words: “power corrupts.”

Political Scientist Brian Klaas—a Minnesotan, a contemporary of one of my daughters at a local high school, a graduate of two institutions of higher learning with which I am familiar, and now a professor at the University of London—has set out to examine this idea in light of the question, “Does power corrupt or are corrupt people drawn to power?”

The answer, it seems, is yes—both are true. While Klaas’s analysis focuses on obviously nefarious activities, he includes some aspects of corporate endeavor and business behavior along the same spectrum. His focus is on people who have wielded “enormous power,” be they “cult leaders, war criminals, despots, coup plotters, torturers, mercenaries, generals, propagandists, rebels, corrupt CEOs, [or] convicted criminals.”

Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming? Or Maybe the FTC

As we watch the televised Russian invasion of Ukraine with horrific destruction and casualties caused by missiles, tanks, and other conventional warfare, the hostilities may seem far away and distant. As Russia continues to suffer setbacks in their conventional military approach, we are likely to see cyberattacks that could spread beyond the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

In a meeting with business leaders on March 21, Joe Biden gave the following warning:

“This is a critical moment to accelerate our work to improve domestic cybersecurity and bolster our national resilience. I have previously warned about the potential that Russia could conduct malicious cyber activity against the United States, including as a response to the unprecedented economic costs we’ve imposed on Russia alongside our allies and partners. It’s part of Russia’s playbook. Today, my administration is reiterating those warnings based on evolving intelligence that the Russian Government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks…….

If you have not already done so, I urge our private sector partners to harden your cyber defenses, immediately implementing the best practices we have developed together over the last year. You have the power, the capacity, and the responsibility to strengthen the cybersecurity and resilience of the critical services and technologies on which Americans rely. We need everyone to do their part to meet one of the defining threats of our time — your vigilance and urgency today can prevent or mitigate attacks tomorrow.”

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Crowdfunding the Entrepreneurial Spirit!

Author: Patricia Garrigner-Strickland

We had a bit of a snowy winter here in Kansas City and after every storm, I had at least one teenage boy ring my doorbell and ask to shovel off my driveway (for a price). On a recent trip to the grocery store, I encountered a group of Girl Scouts selling cookies (I bought three boxes of Thin Mints and ate an entire sleeve on my way home). A new client, a photographer and graphic designer, is looking to expand her business to include art shows and more event bookings. Another client is looking to develop an interactive video game based on martial arts instruction.

Friday, April 8, 2022

The Innovation of America’s Pastime – Reviewing the Patents of Baseball

Author: Tucker Griffith

The annual rite of spring known as Opening Day is upon us. Today's game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees officially started the 146th season of professional baseball. While there have been many rule changes and innovations to the game of baseball over the last century and a half, including recent changes such as the universal designated hitter introduced for the first time this season, the use of a wireless communication device between catcher and pitcher, and the introduction of a pitch clock for next season, the basic rules of the game have remained relatively unchanged since the 1800s. At its heart, the game of baseball is about hitting a ball with a bat and catching that ball with a glove. It is easy to assume that the design of these basic components of the game have likewise been unchanged since the purported inception of baseball in 1839. However, enterprising individuals, often motivated by a desire to improve performance or safety, developed groundbreaking innovations in equipment that became the standard for the game of baseball over time, and are presently as ubiquitous as peanuts, crackerjacks, and the 7th inning stretch. This post explores some of the patented inventions that have advanced the game of baseball, and some that never quite caught on.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Spectacular Failures: Case Studies of Business Implosions

For those of us who are avid multitaskers and prefer to consume our media aurally, podcasts are a great source not only of entertaining content but also new and valuable information. It can be intimidating to jump in on a long-running podcast with potentially hundreds of episodes, so I’d like to highlight a shorter series consisting of twenty standalone episodes: Spectacular Failures.

This podcast by American Public Media and the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota examines one corporate catastrophe in each episode, taking an irreverent but educational approach to documenting each business’s rise and fall. Many episodes trace the collapses and scandals of corporate giants such as Pan Am and Forever 21, but others examine events involving smaller, more local businesses, such as the Los Angeles-based restaurant Squirl’s moldy jam scandal that went viral in 2020. The “spectacular failures” covered in the podcast range in date from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 to the current state of the NYC taxi industry, illuminating key points in the history of American business over the past century.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

What Can Wordle Teach Us About Entrepreneurship?

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you probably know that Wordle is an online word puzzle game that was invented by a software engineer, Josh Wardle, for him and his partner to play. Because of its simplicity, setup, and social attributes, the number of daily players (including me) has skyrocketed from about 90 on November 1 of last year, to 300,000 by New Year’s Day, to over 2,000,000 only a week later!

While that seems like a lot, it still isn’t as many people who at least occasionally play Words with Friends or Candy Crush. One of the biggest appeals of Wordle is that, unlike the countless hours that some people (you know who you are) spend on those other games, you can play it every day and only have to invest about 5 minutes.