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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September Rant -- Visionary or Dreamer? It's all the same

What I am trying to do with this blog, and the other works I am involved in, is gather as much information as I possibly can and utilize available resources to project what I see happening in the future.

Over time we have seen a lot of local focus on "feel good" initiatives, such as the All-American City Award and Tennistown USA. The Google initiative had many positive attachments related to it, but in my opinion it was a no-brainer to chase that one. What I don't believe we have seen are any extraordinary steps taken towards outside of the box development. We have always followed the path of least resistance and picked the low hanging fruit.

I think that this area needs to change its focus. I keep hearing what we were and it is good to know our history -- our real history, not the propagands. This area used to be a hotbed for entrepreneurs. Look at the evidence along the railroad tracks and down Old Highway 70. The question isn't how do we get those specific industries back, but how do we get that Wild West economic gunslinging mindset back.

What is it that we want to be? We can't sit back and wait for this to develop or wait for investors to come to us, we have to create an environment. Nothing is going to fall into our laps. We have to get out front and lead on these economic development issues. What we should have learned by now, is that playing follow the leader will get us scraps and that is if we are lucky.

You know when we will know that Hickory has turned around? When other Municipalities and Industrial leaders are coming here to look at our successes!

And the trends show that we are going to have to learn how to deal with Global interests. I am for Fair Trade. I truly believe we should fight hard for Fair Trade, but the reality of today is that if we are going to make any economic progress, we are going to have to play with the cards we are dealt.

There are opportunities out there. In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy wanted to get back home to Kansas, so she got on the path to Oz. We want to get back home to prosperity and standing pat is not doing that. Identifying some opportunities and moving towards these goals is not going to pay off today, but we have to get on the path or it will never happen.

An example is Visionaire Jets. I had a person close to me say that Jim Rice, the CEO of Visionaire Jets, is a dreamer. It ticked me off, because Mr. Rice has been very open with me relating to the Visionaire project. If you ask him a question about the history of this project, he is very much forward about what has happened and his involvement in the project over the years. He'll tell you right up front that this project carries inherent risks and it isn't guaranteed, but if you allow him to demonstrate how this project is sequenced, structured, and the attention to detail devoted to it, then you know that the project is doable.

So that is what I want to relate to the open-minded people who follow this blog, because I believe that you are intelligent enough to understand this. All entrepreneurs are visionaries. They are people who are willing to take a risk, because they envision and believe that there is a need for a product or service that their mind and soul compel them create and be involved in.

When it comes to business, especially pertaining to innovation and ingenuity, it seems that people who are trying to lay a foundation to start a creative endeavor are labeled "Dreamers." And this label has a negative connotation. Only when entrepreneurs have found success are they labeled "Visionaries." But in the end are they not one and the same? You can be a dreamer who fails on your first four attempts, but if you succeed on the fifth, then you are a visionary and the first four failures get lumped in with he overall "Vision."

I want this area to become a hotbed of innovation and in order to make that happen we have to get past just talking about that as a desire. One of the key ingredients necessary to do that is to change people's thought processes and perceptions when it comes to business. I think we have turned businesses off (and away), when they witness the risk averse mindset that has permeated this area -- the same people who are quick to label people dreamers. Did those past generations who started the furniture and textile businesses in this area have that mindset?

If people want this area to move forward, then they are going to have to invest in upstart companies who are willing to be located in the Hickory region. I know that people don't have the equity that they had 5 to 10 years ago, because the value of their property has fallen, money market interest rates are ridiculously low, and the stock market has gone nowhere over the last decade. But, I think that lessons can be learned from all of this.

People have been all to willing to invest their money in blind faith and not have a direct interest in their personal assets. First things first, our economy has moved from Bubble to Bubble to Bubble with no real stability for a long, long time. Middle Class wealth was invested in banks who used it for Casino Style Derivatives that created no value and thus no wealth. All it has done is dilute the value of the dollar, further diluting individual net worth. The only people who have enjoyed success are Financial Administrators who can't lose. They make a percentage on the way up and they make a percentage on the way down.

Wall Street has taken your money and offshored it. They got their big bonuses and you saw a temporary uptick. They continued to get their bonuses and U.S. companies started to fail. The bonuses kept rolling, foreign companies started growing, and you lost your job, and started having to dig into your investments to survive. They still keep making their bonuses, the value of your assets have fallen, and now many people have nothing left.

But the people who do have assets need to take them away from Wall Street and the Mega-Banks and start investing it in the local community. That is what creates Base-Dynamism. That will get you a better return on your investment. We are to the point in this country where the Middle Class does not have much money left to invest. What capital we do have left is going to have to be invested wisely. I honestly feel that the wisest place to invest your money is in the local community.

I won't get into that today, but I would love to see a local micro-lending fund made up from local investors. I'd love to see a local stock market for local upstart companies. All of this would be done with signed guarantees that entrepreneurs would reinvest back into this community. That would create jobs in our area. That would create wealth and value for our community. That is my vision of what could be, which is a lot better than the vision of where I see us headed.

May God's Peace be with us all.

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