11 – Not My Dad’s Economy




My childhood.

Brought to you by General Electric.

Pops worked for the same company for almost forty-years.

He held many different roles and whipped ass in each of them.

He joined GE just after graduating from University of Rhode Island, and was promptly assigned to computer programming supporting the Polaris missile project. I guess that’s where they sent Math majors back then. I would have been the intern that swept the paper scraps from the punch cards and dusted off the abacuses.

One quote that always stayed with me about his first assignment at GE was about Polaris missiles and their ability to “knock the blemish off of a gnat at 200 statute miles”.

I remember wondering what the hell a blemish and a statute mile was.



Funny enough, middle school helped answer both questions.

When I was younger, I really didn’t know what my Dad did for work. I did know that he was out the door before I even thought of waking up, and he came home during or after we finished dinner. We always had more than most and more than plenty. My brother and I had front row seats to a true clinic on the ethos of hard work, responsibility and providing for your family. Security, guidance, support and love were never at a deficit either, which feeds into what I strive for as a husband and a father.

Pops dug in and invested completely in GE.

Work hard.

Earn and accept transfers and promotions.

Work hard again.

Earn and accept transfers and promotions.

Work hard yet again.

Earn and accept transfers and promotions.

See a pattern?

The bet on General Electric paid off.

Almost 40 years of service is rewarded with a great pension, insurance and benefits.

Exit stage left. Move to the water. Become a connoisseur of beach bars and fishing holes.

Every kid wants to be just like his Dad, and I was no different.


BUT … there was always something in the back of my head that didn’t connect with the concept of working for someone else. My resume would tell you a different story, but in one corner (the larger of the corners) of my brain, I’m still the long-haired, barefoot, VW Bug-driving hippie determined to buck the system and build a new machine.

Over the last 8 years, I’ve been trying to satisfy that vision with my company, Tunewelders and other projects that fit the mold. At forty years old, I just may actually be figuring it out, but that’s a story for a later post.

Guess what? The game has changed.

Long stints with large, global companies along with stocks and pensions are no longer the norm. Not to worry, major opportunity still exists. You just have to keep your eyes open and be willing to connect the dots.


Where do new ideas come from? Is anything really new?

Many innovations are mere rearrangements of found elements applied in a new way.

Just like any other muscle, the idea engine (READ: YOUR BRAIN) needs input and exercise.

Take it for a walk in the morning.

I recently started challenging myself to come up with one idea a day.

Obstacle #1 – Realize you aren’t changing the world on your first try.

Observation #1 – Coming up with bad ideas is a low stress endeavor.

Observation #2 – Ideas are fun if you let them be fun.

Observation #3 – If these contraptions can gain traction, why can’t one of your ideas?




Good ideas are usually preceded by bad ideas, research and inspiration.
Recent sources of inspiration for me have come from Peter Diamandis.
Peter Diamandis is an entrepreneur and New York Times Bestselling author known for coming up with and executing “moonshot ideas”. One of these ideas has turned into a platform that harnesses creativity and innovation from around the world, motivated by competition and prize money to solve the greatest challenges the world has ever seen.
XPrize is an example of one idea that enables and generates many ideas.
#1 – Set an “audacious but achievable” goal
#2 – Incentivize the solution
#3 – Challenge the world to solve it
For example:
Grand Challenge: Build a reliable, reusable, privately financed manned spaceship capable of carrying three people to 100KM above the Earth’s surface twice within 2 weeks.
  • $2.5 million in seed money
  • $10 million prize purse (Ansari family sponsored)
  • 26 teams invested over $100 million
  • May 1996 – October 2004
XPrize has been a factory of successful collaborations between entrepreneurs and companies like Google, Anthony Robbins Foundation, Shell and IBM.
Bold: How To Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World. is a playbook for turning your ideas into action, building businesses and changing the game. Two interesting concepts from this book are the rising billions and exponential entrepreneurship.
Diamandis explains:
On the rising billions …
“three to five billion new consumers, who have never purchased anything, never uploaded anything, and never invented and sold anything, are about to come online and provide a mega-surge to the global economy.”
“The Rising Billions are not coming online like we did 20 years ago with a 9600 modem on AOL. They’re coming online with a 1 Mbps connection and access to the world’s information on Google, cloud 3D printing, Amazon Web Services, artificial intelligence with Watson, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, and more.” (Peter Diamandis)
On exponential versus linear …
 “If I take 30 large linear steps (say 3ft or 1M per step), from my Santa Monica living room, I end up 30M across the street. If, alternatively, I take 30 exponential steps from the same starting point, I end up a billion meters, or orbiting the Earth 27 times”
The exponential entrepreneur will find a way to solve problems for the rising billions.
According to Diamandis, it has never been easier to bring a new idea forward. With accelerated technologies, hyper-connected communities and crowd-powered tools, almost anything is possible. The excuse list seems to be dwindling.

Don’t know how to code? No problem. Top Coder

Not a graphic designer? No problem. 99 Designs

Not an engineer? No problem. Quirky

One idea per day. 365 ideas per year. Odds are at least one or two are worth chasing down.
It is the idea economy that will provide opportunity.
The game has changed.
ME is the new GE.
Notes and Links

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