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Inspiration: How to Project

Courtesy of my new friend Mike Arnold, from the UK, educational and inspirational posters (I love posters) for how to do things. How can you go wrong with something so graphically brilliant that tells you what to do? Come to think of it, the Brits were the ones who came up with “Keep Calm and Carry On”, which is about as direct as it gets.

As readers know, Aunt Toby does not do a lot of product flogging here — but these are actually limited edition posters, signed as well. So, you get your directive AND your art at the same time.

How to Project

The Morrill Act and What It Means for You

Don’t go scrambling for the newspapers – the Morrill Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on July 2, 1862, establishing the land-grant colleges. Morrill Act (more…)

So, You Want a Farmers’ Market

I was reading a post on Facebook the other day with regard to farmers markets and one commenter wrote that every town needed one and that her city did not.

On the face of it, that sounds like something out of a ‘say wha?” sort of experience. Doesn’t every place have a farmers market? Someplace? (more…)

More FANAFI: Find a Need and Fill It

Everyone has their favorite event or story from the recent Winter Olympics. Mine is the tale of the Norwegian Curling Team’s very colorful pants. Now, how they came to find the pants is not the topic here. The pants, however, attracted a huge amount of attention worldwide, not only for the Norwegian team (which finally lost in the end to the Canadians), but also for the sport itself. A fan from Rochester started a Facebook page, The Norwegian Curling Team Pants which has 600,000 fans (including 200,000 from Norway itself).
CNBC was running curling coverage after the close of business on Wall Street, so there the traders were, ogling the Norwegians’ red, white and blue diamond pants, while the teams were playing what has been heretofore considered a sport about as exciting as watching corn grow. (more…)

Basic Entrepreneurial Rules Still Apply: Find a Need and Fill It

“Demetri Leontaris sometimes calls himself the “iPod Doctor” and the license plate on his van that says exactly that. But the first thing you notice is how many people come up to his van and ask him for a business card. Leontaris repairs cell phones, laptops and digital music players, and he says his business got started by chance. He loved the iPod when it came out; he bought a broken one, but he found Apple’s repair prices too steep. So he bought another broken iPod for the parts, took them both apart, and fixed one of them. Before he knew it, he “kept on finding people with broken iPods, who wanted to get them fixed.” In fact he says that most people are amazed. They had no idea they could get their Blackberries, or iPods fixed.”

Mobile Electronics Repair

The DH heard this story on NPR this week and told me about it – he was fascinated by the major aspect of the story: A guy turning a personal need into a business that is growing like crazy – a mobile ‘small personal electronics repair’ business. (more…)

Taking Personal Responsibility for Breaking the Recession

Aunt Toby was not always the Philosopher Queen on the kitchen counter; once upon a year quite a few years ago, she was the marketing and sales rep for a family-owned employment agency. I covered three counties and was in and out of every commercial office, manufacturing plant, and machine shop. On the one hand, it was an amazing education in what made our metropolitan area economically tick – who supplied whom, who depended on whom, where people were going and so on and so forth. Your dear Auntie had many adventures during that period, including being pushed through a door by an malicious office manager(and almost falling down two flights of stairs), watching two months worth of cold calling go rapidly down the tubes as my boss’s brother monopolized the sales presentation, creeping up a rickety staircase of a dark back room of a warehouse to speak to a director of human resources (that meeting did NOT end well).

The best part of the job, (more…)

Sometimes, you’ve got to grow your own luck

lightening(photo courtesy of thefost)
When my father was alive, he considered himself to be the luckiest guy and said so many times. Through what he considered a real stroke of luck, he ended up going to medical school in Scotland. Looking at what was going on at the time, the chances of that happening were pretty slim: It was 1938. My grandfather had gone into bankruptcy and lost his business. My father was not a very good student. He had a lead on going to the University of Minnesota and trying to get into the medical school there, but it was only a shot – he could get out there and be refused and would have to go home, a waste of a train ticket. He was working for the summer in the Catskills in a terrible hotel and had basically resigned himself to going back to New York, enrolling at City College to get a high school biology teaching certification and giving up. At the end of the summer, his father called him to tell him that they’d just gotten a telegram from a medical college (a prep school really, one of those places where regular medical students who were not doing well could go for extra tutoring to get through the boards) in Glasgow, saying that if my father could get there by the first week in September, he’d have a place. My grandfather, who goodness only knows was coarse, illiterate in about 5 different languages, and generally a nasty SOB, asked him if he really wanted to do it. My father said yes but there was no way to get everything done – a passport, clothes, a ship fare, especially with my grandfather’s situation. “F**k you – if you want it, go do it – we’ll find a way.” (more…)

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