If I can do it you can do it too.

In the mid 1990s, I was running a large angel capital group in Greenville, SC. An associate heard about an organic grocery store chain in Asheville, NC seeking to grow. We called on the founder, Roger, who gave us a tour of his store and convinced us he had a strong concept. We had folks with lots of grocery experience in our investor group.

After investing we opened a second store in Charleston, SC. That didn’t go well. We took a step back and asked a series of questions that defined the company’s future.

What is essential to achieve our…

Define what is essential, attract an outstanding team, hold them accountable for results, and let them do their jobs in ways only they can.

I had the privilege late in her career of interviewing Virginia Uldrick, the long time founding President of the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities.

From early in her life Virginia wanted to be a performer. Her mother inspired her to be an out-of-the-box thinker and pursue her dreams, while instilling in her a strong sense of personal accountability. She attended Greenville High School, where her chorale director and the drama teacher helped develop her craft. …

Initially presented as a Sunday sermon to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Greenville, South Carolina on January 9, 2011.

Opening Reading

Max De Pree, Leading Without Power: Finding Hope in Serving Community.

“Exceptional organizations are movements:

Beth Israel Hospital in Boston — the first hospital in the United States to publish a declaration of patient rights and to incorporate employee and patient ideas into its operations,

Willow Creek Church west of Chicago — which reaches out into the unchurched culture rather than expecting all people to reach out to the church,

Intervarsity Christian Fellowship in Madison, Wisconsin — a pioneer…

"As long as people keep telling me what I wrote made their lives better, I’ll keep writing." I absolutely agree. I have been doing a weekly update on South Carolina Public Radio for about fifteen years. Just about the time I get bored and decide to quit, someone will tell me how impactful a recent broadcast was to them. That keeps me going.

The digital tools are new and the potential bigger, but people were social creatures before the Internet came along

Image from author

There’s a great line in a country song, “I was country before country was cool.” I was a successful social marketer long before it was cool. The digital tools are new. The reach of the Internet is enormous. People were social creatures before the Internet came along. The basic social marketing concepts that work aren’t new.

The Medium is the Message

F-86 Sabre Jet at Major Rudolf Anderson Memorial— Image by the author

I’m a pretty good amateur photographer living in the beautiful town of Greenville, SC. We have a wonderful 120 acre Cleveland Park downtown that I walk through regularly.

Our Local Hero — Major Rudolf Anderson

The park has a memorial to favorite son Major Rudolf Anderson, the only American killed during the 1962 Cuban Missle Crisis. His death may have prevented a nuclear war that killed millions of people. Justifiably there is a lot of local pride in the ultimate sacrifice Major Anderson made for his country.

Honda’s is first with a self-driving car that pays attention to the road so the person texting while driving doesn’t smash into you

EmelieP, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

We have to start somewhere.

The Honda Legend is the first production Level 3 autonomous car. 100 are available in Japan for a cool JP¥ 11 million (about US$ 102,000).

What’s a level 3 autonomous vehicle?

What it is not is fully autonomous. There are six levels of autonomy, ranging from Level 0, which is manually controlled, to Level 5, in which humans are optional. Obviously, Level 3 is in between.

Level 3 is the first at which vehicles drive themselves so humans can take their eyes off the road, for example to text or watch a movie. The vehicle detects its environment and handles immediate responses, like emergency braking or…

The saddest business experience of my career

By steenslag — P1010533, CC BY-SA 2.0

A young entrepreneur started a manufacturing company to introduce an innovative superabsorbant gel to the market. He had one customer, who repackaged the gel into a potting soil mixture sold through garden shops. The product’s appearance as white crystals was very important to selling it at retail.

Since this customer was so important to the company, as a part of my investment due diligence I flew to his Boston headquarters to ask the customer in person,

If I invest in the company, you are going to buy the product?

He said,

I won’t commit to buying your capacity, but I…

An empathetic leader empowered an entire community for decades

The Saturday Market in downtown Greenville, SC — Image by the author

One of the least appreciated elements of outstanding leadership is empathy for others — the ability to connect with people and understand their needs and desires before asking for anything from them. Most people are hungry for validation from someone they respect. The creative culture that feeds that hunger launches people into pursuing their passions with gusto.

I was a tiny spectator in one of the most enduring lessons in leadership in my life. A renowned business leader, Buck Mickel, was the former CEO of the global construction company Fluor Daniel. …

John Warner

Serial entrepreneur sharing 40 years of insights to control your destiny in our turbulent times

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