About the Music of Quantum Entity
Thursday 24 May 2012
What is music? It is poetry set to music and all of us owe a
large debt of gratitude to those who create it and perform it. Many of
our fondest memories are anchored in music—first kiss, winning a
championship, a perfect summer’s day at the beach, singing a new baby to
sleep, her first concert, a hymn in Church at a baptism or wedding.
Passages, achievements, action, adventure, love, birth and life are all
remembered, experienced and mediated through music.
Music played a large role in the writing of the first novel, We Are
All ONE in the Quantum Entity trilogy. Tunes Prof Bruce refers to and
his characters experience which are performed at Artifex (https://www.exploriem.org/events/artifex/) include:
We are All One (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSZdWAcGndg)
Original Lyrics by Chris Brydges with assistance from Bruce Firestone
Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen (k d lang, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-bj4TccyKk)
Amazing Grace by John Newton (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-z5N1UDhx4o)
Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash performed with Willie Nelson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99CT3wQmiFU)
People Get Ready by Curtis Mayfield—a beautiful protest song and part of Book 2, Chapter 1 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ervf7hIxZ3Y)
Talk of Hands (Book 2), Original Music by Carl Bray
Nell’s Folly—The Successors, Original Lyrics and Music by Chris Brydges
There are many other pieces that appear in the story as these amazing
characters go through transitions of their own. What they are you will
have to read the books (visit www.brucemfirestone.com to get a copy of Book 1) to find out.
Music brings people together, unites us with our world and its animal
kingdom and ties us to the universe—as William Congreve in The Mourning
Bride said in 1697, “Music hath powers to soothe the savage breast.”
It enriches our lives and I am profoundly grateful to my friends
Andre Del Castillo, Chris Brydges and Carl Bray and many others for
coming to Artifex to perform some of the music of Quantum Entity and to
make this all possible.
Let me end with the last few words of a new song which we called We
Are All ONE. This song asks that we each of us give our brothers and
sisters a chance—to belong, to get along, to help and respect each other
whether we are humans of different creeds or artificial creatures
called Quantum Entities come to join humanity on its road to a destiny
whatever that may be.
In the Ivory Tower you forget that the people are the power, people in your Sights
“We are the People” means all of us; Quantum and Human Rights
Don’t fuss, get on the bus or rust, then march and bike and Sing
And strike and strike the Bell, and ring out freedom for all; remember to hear that we Say
When we say, we said that we say, “Take me back, take me back to the Day”
All we are asking is give us a chance
All we are asking is give us a chance
All we are asking is give us a chance
Prof Bruce, Ottawa, Canada
Prof Bruce @ 7:48 am
Tuesday 22 May 2012
Why Education is Important
Warning: contains violence and mature themes
Here is a brief report from my friends Dan and Jane Pearlman on
assignment in Tanzania for two years as to why education is important:
Street kids make their living washing windshields or selling peanuts
at traffic lights on Morocco Road and Ali Hassam Drive in Dar Es Salaam.
They were interviewed just after the election of a new President of
Tanzania two years ago and were asked what they wanted their new
President to do for them. All six kids (who seemed to be 10-12 years
old) said, “We want our President to build schools so we can go and get
an education. We want to find work and school will help us. We don’t
want the police to arrest us for trying to make a living.” This from
kids who sleep in the bush beside the road.
Kids as young as 12 are forced to have sex for 2-3,000 shillings
(about $1.30-$2.00) which buys them food and maybe shelter for the day.
For 10,000 shillings, they have to do things that are painful and/or
degrading. At 12! They also want a safe place to live and training so
they canwork at something else to survive.
Albinos in Tanzania are treated like dirt, beaten and sometimes have
body parts cut off or are just ‘disappeared’. They get body parts
removed with a machete because they are ‘demons’ or have been ‘seized by
demons’. Or they are used to ‘increase the catch of fishermen’. So
adults and kids get their hands or feet chopped off and adults are used
What’s the solution? Education. But it’s not just a message for
Tanzania, it’s also just as important for kids to know this in Canada
and the US. Stay in school. Stay on the path…
But there are also Tanzanians who provide shelter to albinos, build
and run orphanages and schools for street kids and shelters for young
women where they can get trained to do something. So there are really
good people and… really bad too.
Dan and Jane Pearlman in Tanzania
On assignment for two years
Prof Bruce @ 1:48 pm
Development Economics and Entrepreneurship
Exploriem.org, History and Future
Thursday 17 May 2012
Prof Bruce @ 1:36 pm
Development Economics and Entrepreneurship
Livable Cities and Neo-Urbanism
Saturday 12 May 2012
Why so many established enterprises let entrepreneurs eat their lunch
There is no industry that is changing faster than this one. Not
music, film, television, nothing. It’s not just book publishing that is
changing at an incredible rate as e-publishing platforms proliferate
across the Internet and tablets, smart phones and computers become the
medium of choice for many, soon to be most, novels and books. This great
democratization of the publishing industry will let anyone and everyone
create and publish professionally, catering to even the tiniest niche
market and audience.
If publishers are not careful, they will be disintermediated to extinction and soon.
Newspapers are facing the same possibility. How is it possible that
newspapers allowed services like Kijiji, Craigslist and Angieslist to
eat one of the most profitable parts of their business? Why did the
Yellow Pages refuse until recently to embrace the freemium model? How
come it took them so long to realize that user created content is often
free and a more complete listing of businesses is far more valuable than
one that only contains listings of large, well heeled enterprises? Why
did they allow services like digg, reddit and twitter to reverse out
practically all the work of editors, headline writers, journalists and
newspaper delivery to their readers/users?
The answer might be that old line publishers and newspapers suffer from the innovator’s dilemma:
Great companies do everything right. That’s what’s wrong with them.
This is the central premise of Clayton Christensen’s book of the same
name*: by listening to customers, adopting six sigma total quality
management practices and Kaizen (Japanese-style constant improvement),
implementing supply chain best practices, focusing on maximizing short
term profits, share profit and price as well as top line growth,
leadership left no room for disruptive innovation. It had to come from
This is one of the reasons that Steve Jobs did not believe in market
research or focus group testing; he believed that what you got out of
those were delay and insights that might help you with what you are
doing or have done in the past but not what you might or should do in
So he would not have worried that the iPad might cannibalize Mac sales or that the iPhone could do the same to the iPod.
Christensen’s insight is an important one but it might not be very
useful. Almost all top executives I have known are incredibly resistant
to change. Much of their focus is on boosting short term performance and
stock price because it’s not only ‘good for shareholders’, it’s even
better for their compensation packages.
Postscript: I will have much more to say about the publishing
business in the coming months. @hmarieadkins (of Cyber Witch Press fame:
https://cyberwitchpress.com) and I will write the definitive (so far) article on e-publishing after Quantum Entity, We Are All ONE is completed: https://www.brucemfirestone.com.
* The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change
the Way You Do Business, Clayton M. Christensen, Harvard College, 1997.
Prof Bruce @ 10:34 am
Saturday 5 May 2012
This is a simple test for films (and books) that is harder to pass than you might think at first blush.
/bech•del test/ n.
1. The film (or book, Ed.) has to have at least two [named] women characters in it,
2. Who talk to each other,
3. About something besides a man.
Janak Alford from prototypeD.org suggested we put Quantum Entity, We Are All ONE (www.brucemfirestone.com)
to the test. These are the folks who are producing a short film based
on QE to be released on the same day as the book (June 20, 2012 at
It didn’t take me long to find a scene that I think can pass Bechdel.
This is from Chapter 1, Book 1. Some of my key characters are at an
after-show party taking place on the top floor of the Soho Met Hotel and
Dafne Weinstein, Nell’s publicist, is trying to pry her away from a
local tech guy (Damien Bell as it turns out) who appears to be
monopolizing her time. Dafne is anxious to capitalize on the show’s
momentum via a Nell appearance on all their social media channels.
Here is the scene:
Weinstein especially is concerned. The live social media feedback
for the concert is overwhelmingly positive and it feels like the whole
world is waiting for Nell to make her media wall appearance. Weinstein
wants to keep the momentum going but Nell has the unfortunate habit of
wanting to actually talk to her fans herself, post her own comments and
respond to as many as she can. She has this thing about being authentic.
In the past, Weinstein has watched Nell talk about her boobs (real),
the fact that one of her legs is a bit shorter than the other (a
childhood scooter accident) and what it’s like to be so poor you can’t
get any medical or dental help in what once was the world’s richest,
most powerful nation.
Dafne wants Nell to ease up on herself and let her find ghost writers
for all their social media platforms, blogs and video channels. Nell
just says ‘No’, firmly and finally.
“Nell, excuse me, but you promised Tech Crunch TV and YouTube a
follow up interview after your final show and Cronkey and Vidalis are
waiting for you. We’ve set them up in the ante room to your dressing
room,” Weinstein adds, not bothering to introduce herself to the tech
guy who is monopolizing Nell’s time. “We’ve also set you up with a cross
platform virtual keypad and camera so you can record your thoughts for
your social media fans too.”
“Damien, I would like you to meet Ms. Dafne Weinstein, my publicist,”
Nell says in her somewhat husky voice that seems to envelope everyone
Dafne does the minimum to be polite, shakes hands perfunctorily with
Damien and, with her rather large hand on Nell’s lower back, steers her
through the room towards the hallway leading to where Cronkey and
Vidalis sit, patiently, waiting for Nell.
I had long planned to tell the story of Quantum Entity, Book 1 from
Damien’s point of view frankly because as a first time novelist, a male
point of view is what I understand best. Book 2 was planned around biz
dynamo Ellen Brooks and Book 3 is from another POV I can’t yet disclose.
But Ellen is such a strong character that she took over the last third
of Book 1. I didn’t plan that; it just happened. When you read QE,
you’ll understand why. At times, I felt like I wasn’t writing the book
at all. My characters, especially the female leads Ellen and Nell come
to the forefront. They were telling me the story (dictating it really); I
was just their scribe.
I hope readers will agree with me that Ellen, Nell, Dafne, Arcadia
and other women characters you will find there are fantastic and not
just there to be pretty wallpaper, foils for men, prizes to be sought
after, screaming for help or waiting to be rescued by handsome princes.
Sometimes, it’s just the opposite in fact. I have always liked strong
women (and married one who I still adore 27 years later). What I find
amazing though is the complete transformation I went through as I sought
to improve my understanding of a woman’s way of doing things.
They tend to be more careful, plan things out more thoroughly, trying
not to overlook things that may trip them up later and introducing far
more what-if scenarios than men typically do.
In biz dev, women tend to have powerful feelings for their fledgling
enterprises more akin to nurturing them. Men often want to have sex with
their business creation. Different impulses but similar results. Both
invoke passion. The other major difference is that many men want to be
big or go home. I have male entrepreneurs that I mentor who have $8
million in revenues and tell me they suck and women entrepreneurs with
businesses doing topline volume of $800,000 that think are wonderful.
The latter is more of a lifestyle biz, probably not sustainable after
the Founder retires. I ask my women entrepreneurs to raise their sights.
I ask the guys to raise their game– execute better.
But I’ll admit it, I am a romantic too so there’s lots of that in
this QE trilogy. Soon you will get to judge for yourself how these women
and others in the books act, interact, develop and cope with their
lives. I tried to develop female leads that knew how to talk to other
women in a non-MTV/Much Music/Mean Girl kind of way.
Some of the female characters follow in the tradition of Ellen (!)
Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver in the 1979 film, Alien). Ripley is
warrant officer aboard spaceship Nostromo. On its journey back from
Thedus to Earth, they pick up a hitchhiker who kills almost all her
entire crew. What blew me away when I first saw the movie (I was in LA
during its release) was that a fearless woman could walk tall and carry a
big stick. For a guy who went to an all-boys school, then engineering
school (we had 500 first year Engineers of which 2 were women; in second
year we had none, one went to architecture and the other bolted), then I
worked in male-dominated tech in Oz, so it was a complete eye opener. I
had never seen a woman do anything other than look good and
scream at the right (or wrong) times in sci-fi or horror flicks up to
that point (think Fay Wray and King Kong, 1939). Of course, this is old
news now with people like Sheryl Sandberg taking on the COO job at
Fay with Her Director, Producing the Scream!
I have three beautiful daughters all in their 20s now and, in part, I
wrote QE for them. Women form a majority of student population at most
tertiary institutions, make up roughly half the labor force in the US,
do more than half of the housework at home, most of the child rearing
and are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds
of American families– bottom-line, women are working more hours on more
jobs than most men*
(* The Shriver Report, By Maria Shriver and the Center for American
Progress, edited by Heather Boushey and Ann O’Leary | October 16, 2009)
ps. I have two fine sons and a handsome grandson just a few weeks old too BTW.
Prof Bruce @ 9:36 am
Writing, Research and Experimentation
Friday 4 May 2012
Actor, Screenwriter, Maori Poi Fire Dancer, Teacher, Mentor, Environmental Activist
Born in Daylight
Barbara Kozicki traveled to New Zealand’s North Island or was she
called there? She visited the cultural centre at Rotorua to eat a Hangi
meal (based as it is on a 2,000 year old Maori tradition of using super
heated rocks and an in-ground cooking technique) in Mitai Village and to
buy a pair of short Poi to further her interest in traditional Maori
fire dance that she had already self-taught in Vancouver for a few
years. Little did she know that her month-long stay there would bring
her insights and take her to a new place in her life that would change
Babara Kozicki’s Maori Poi Fire Dance
Poi represents Flight of Birds/Wings Move Leaving Butterfly Patterns
While in Rotorua, she met a Maori girl, Ngaio Maxwell, who became
interested in her after watching her play with her new purchase. Ngaio
went to show Ms. Kozicki a move and the Poi broke (they were cheap and
presumably ornamental, made for tourists) so she invited Barbara over
the next day to learn some more moves and she gifted Barbara a pair of
traditional short poi that she still has today.
Barbara told the girl that her interest in Poi stemmed from a video
she’d seen some two years before. The girl asked her, “What video?” So
Ms. Kozicki hummed a few bars/part of the tune she’d heard on that
video. The girl jumped up and said, “I know it!” Together, they looked
online and found it. Turns out the performers were the Ngati
Rangiwewehi*, her group. Ngaio said, “That’s my Aunty, that’s my cousin,
there’s my Dad and my Uncle.”
(* ‘Ngati’ roughly means born of a certain group. ‘Rangiwewehi’ is
the name of the tribe they are from. ‘Te Arawa’ is the area of Rotoroua
and the Bay of Islands where the group lives.)
The tiny hairs on Barbara’s neck stood up–she knew that somehow, two
years after the fact, she had arrived at her second home. Faith and
hunch had found this girl whose family had made that video which
inspired Barbara to take up Traditional Poi dancing in the first place;
it was an insane coincidence. Serendipity at work.
Maori Poi Fire Dance at Hnatyshyn Foundation gala, VSO School of Music, Vancouver BC (April 25, 2012)
The owners and almost all the staff at the hostel in Rotorua where
Ms. Kozicki stayed are Maori women. One of them drove Ngaio and Barbara
to and from a secluded beach so they could discover non-touristy New
Zealand. A woman named Kat took them to a Marae (meeting place) where
they saw a wharenui (a beautiful carved and decorated meeting house).
It was also Kat who introduced them to the tattoo artist that
designed Barbara’s Moko stamp (chin tattoo). The artist is renown and
does not normally tattoo foreigners. Tattoos are integral to Maori
culture. This experience was a great honour and another indication of
how accepting Maori culture can be.
Kat and Ngaio also arranged for Barbara to meet artist Donna Waiariki
and her daughter Tia at Whakarewarewa Village. Donna is the artist who
made Ms. Kozicki’s regalia. Turns out the pupu skirt is made up of flax,
cut and braided. She also had to learn how to dye it.
Tia took them on a tour. The whole village knew about Ms. Kozicki
before she had even arrived. Barbara and her new friends went to see a
Poi performance. Someone on stage said, “There’s a member of our
audience who should be dancing with us,” pointing at Ms. Kozicki. The
next thing she knew, she was running up on stage where they gave her a
poi set and then she was performing with their group.
The following day, Barbara went to buy an outfit but was told, with
apologies, they had just one set left. Fittingly, the bodice was exactly
her size; it was as if someone had measured it perfectly for her 5’8″
Barbara Kozicki, Vancouver BC
As her stay with the Maori came to an end, she met up one last time
with her friend who said, “You are Maori on the inside but white on the
outside because you were born in the daylight.” It was a marvelous
moment for Ms. Kozicki.
Coming back to Canada imbued with the spirit of the Maori, Barbara
wanted to perform her art but was rejected and criticized because she
could not possibly be authentic. She had to struggle to find her place
despite the culture wars.
Hurt and discouraged, rejected in her own nation, she fought the ban
eventually coming to be accepted and then one day featured on the main
stage at Calgary’s Canada Day celebration. She was home, again.
Barbara says that, “Poi is not like Hulu. There is no right/wrong. Poi is a way to communicate music in movement.
“There is no written history of Poi either. It is said that men did
Poi to exercise their wrists in preparation for for warfare. Women were
forbidden Poi moves. So they did it in secret instead. But when the men
saw them do it, their beauty and grace, legend says they then decided it
was OK. After that, women who excelled in Poi were highly prized.
“Women became so proficient at it that it was then used to distract enemies before war so one tribe could wipe out another.
“The Maori are a very musical culture. They incorporate new music as
well as traditional forms. It is a very inclusive culture which is why
it is so strong in New Zealand and so enduring.
“They taught me that if you have any Maori blood in you or just
their spirit in you, they will raise you up in their culture as one of
their own. Interestingly, Poi is compulsory in elementary schools in New
“Using fire in poi is a modern invention; it’s a way to make it more
showy, give it more wowza! For someone to do it alone, as a soloist like
I do, is very unusual. Often you will find 30 or 40 women performing
together. They can even do poi sitting, aka boat poi!
“I guess I brought something original to this artform. I made Poi
sexier! With wiggling hips and me dressed in evening gowns performing at
really high speeds. My Maori friends like it.”
Barbara does some private teaching but finds it stressful when she
teaches combined classes of novices and advanced practitioners. She
relishes introducing someone new to Poi; seeing their excitement, their
ability to think outside the box and create a new move, possibly one
that Barbara has never seen before.
She adores performing and loves to mentor others. She recently showed
ten women how to turn their Poi fire dancing into supplemental incomes.
She is an actress, screenwriter and, of course, a Poi fire dancer.
She is also an environmental activist with a particular interest in
ocean conversation and consequently an inveterate letter writer.
One of her proudest achievements to date is a (successful)
letter-writing campaign to have Loblaws pull canned shark fin from their
Ms. Kozicki won a William and Nona Heaslip award for academic
achievement, leadership and community involvement totaling $15,000 per
year for three years while she was at UBC and also a Hnatyshyn
Foundation early career grant for the performing arts for $10,000.
Like many artpreneurs, Barbara wants to give back to her community
and teaching, mentoring and environmental lobbying are ways for her to
do that. But many artists are reluctant to take money for their work as
teachers or mentors and in this I think they are wrong. Entrepreneurs,
intrapreneurs and artpreneurs all believe or should believe in fair
trade, value for value. Sometimes they seem to have trouble saying, ‘I’m
One of the things I have tried to do in a career of teaching
architects and other creative professionals is to explain to them that
it is OK to talk the language of business. Great architects like Douglas
Cardinal can do that; Michelangelo could do it. All of us need the
favour of patrons to survive; people who cherish us and our work. It is
often abundantly clear that creativity and design contribute hugely to
creation of new economic value but, for many artpreneurs, sadly, death
is a career move. They see so little of it while alive.
Don’t let that be you.
Prof Bruce @ 6:46 pm
Friday 4 May 2012
As readers of this Journal already know, I have become more
convinced than ever that artpreneurs play and will play a larger role in
carving out sustainable city-state economies in the future than at any
time in the past or, at least, since medieval times. Creativity cannot
be outsourced and is much harder to knock off than, say, a 5-function
In medieval towns, the marketplace, court jester and musicians,
magicians and sorcerers, alchemist, doctor, town fair, town centre,
open air play, theatre, public hangings/beheadings, the joust, archery
contest, sporting events, the Olympics, Marathon, wall hangings, murals,
the Book, formalized dance, baking, cooking, recipe making, farming,
religion, weddings, baptisms, funerals, battles, dueling, sewing,
knitting, pottery, painting, blacksmithing,
armour/sword/shield/banner/flag/dress making and much more were key
parts of creating guilds and then towns that prospered from them.
Many of these old arts are making a comeback as people rediscover the
joy of possessing, for example, an authentic, handmade leather iPad
case from https://www.dodocase.com or a set of fabulous field notes made by former snowboarder, Aaron Draplin (https://www.eqjournal.org/?p=2012).
Oh So Authentic Field Notes
I have also become more interested in creative writing now having
finished Book 1 of my new trilogy, Quantum Entity, We Are All ONE, to be
released in June 2012 (https://www.brucemfirestone.com). 18-time novelist Claire Harrison recommends that would-be creative writers practice*
before attempting to pen their great opus by first redoing/rewriting a
scene from a favorite film, TV show or book; to see if they can improve
on the work done by published authors or proven screenwriters. So, as
the good student I am, I tried my hand at it: I rewrote a scene from the
film Ghost that wouldn’t you know it, 11 months later turned
out to fit perfectly into Chapter 1 of Book 2 (Quantum Entity, American
Spring). It was synchronous, for sure. You can see what I did with that
film here: Ghost Scene, https://www.eqjournal.org/?p=3191.
(* My PhD supervisor, the late great Dr. Max Neutze also believed in
practice saying to me upon my arrival at the ANU in Canberra, “Don’t
worry, Bruce. The first million words are the toughest.”)
More recently, I was watching a film called Devil (2010)
written by Brian Nelson (screenplay) and M. Night Shyamalan (story). In
the movie, six people (four men and two women) are trapped in an
elevator, one of whom is the Devil and a murderer, you just don’t know
which one. All of the five passengers (SPOILER ALERT) will turn out to
have been ‘called’ there (presumably by the Devil) to pay for their
sins. One will outsmart the Devil and survive by confessing his/her sins
publicly before the Devil can exact judgment.
A cop on scene (played by Chris Messina) is in the building’s control
room. It will turn out he too has been called there, for a purpose that
will only become apparent right near the end of the film. It’s a good
plot twist. He has video into the elevator cab and audio– but only
1-way. The people in the cab can hear him but not vice versa. The cop is
trying to find out which one is the murderer by process of elimination
with a limited flow of (asymmetric) information.
At one point, he asks the people in the elevator to tell him their
names, first by showing the video camera some ID. Turns out camera
visual acuity is not good enough to allow him to read their tiny
licenses. Thinking quickly (!), he asks if anyone has a pen so they can
write their names large enough for him to read them. Not one of the five
people in the elevator have a pen. So the cop gives up. Hmm.
The rest of the story develops around this conundrum and the writers
come up with an elaborate, dare-I-say somewhat forced, way for the
detective to deduce their names and eliminate one after another as a
suspect. None of it works worth a bean and the writers use an old Agatha
Christie trick (one she used in Ten Little Indians) to fool both audience and P.O.L.I.C.E.M.A.N. Hmm.
I can think of at least eight ways the cop could have directly solved the problem. See if you can come up with others.
One. Have them spell out their names in code using
numbers (1-26) and their fingers with pauses between each number similar
to what you would do with Morse code. Here’s mine:
If you can’t break this simple code, please go read Neal Stephenson’s wonderful novel, Cryptonomicon and come back in about a month.
Two. Anyone have an iPad or iPhone? I always carry
one or both. It would be trivial to write out my name and those of my
companions at any font size and hold it up to the camera. Quite readable
Three. Anyone heard of texting?
Four. How about emailing?
Five. I have a Twitter App on my iPhone and iPad. I can tweet it to the cop. Even DM him if he follows me @ProfBruce.
Six. Twitter too tough for Chris to master (he shoulda read Twitter Nation, https://www.eqjournal.org/?p=2080
before coming onto this crime scene)? OK, he could friend me on
Facebook instead; then we can message each other all the live long day.
Seven. Call for image enhancement. The P.O.L.I.C.E.
not to mention NSA, CSIS, RCMP, CIA or FBI can read the initials on your
cuff-links from LEO (Low Earth Orbit) so they surely can take this
piece of video and read a few licenses.
Eight. Heck, if all else fails, you can sign your
name really fast. I did it yesterday with help from @alexwolfe12. See if
you can guess my first name from the composite image below?
Signing for Dummies
Any other suggestions?
Postscript: Hold the presses; if I had my iPhone, I coulda just called the cop. That’s NINE.
Prof Bruce @ 8:33 am
Development Economics and Entrepreneurship
Livable Cities and Neo-Urbanism
Writing, Research and Experimentation
How Not to Suddenly be in Business with Your Partner’s Family
Wednesday 2 May 2012
Guest Article by Ryan Ricci, BA, Desjardins Financial Security Independent Network
Running a successful business is a balancing act, an intricate puzzle
requiring skill, determination and passion to make everything flow
smoothly. However, if something happens to you, a partner, or a key
stakeholder can the company continue to operate effectively?
Chaos can result when a stakeholder dies without a succession plan in
place – even if you are a start-up. If this happens you may suddenly
find yourself in business with your partner’s spouse, children or
parents. Or conversely, your children may be responsible for running a
business they don’t fully understand.
Creating a buy/sell agreement with help from your lawyer in the event
of the death of a key stakeholder is crucial for business continuity.
That agreement details how the deceased partner’s ownership of the
business passes to other stakeholders, protecting their heirs, surviving
stakeholders and the business. Funding the agreement is equally
important, and it does not have to be costly or complicated.
You and your business partner can protect one another, your families
and your business for as little as $50* per month. Securing a
corporate-funded life insurance policy would promptly provide tax-free
funds for outright purchase of the deceased stakeholder’s share of the
business. It’s a solution that’s simple, cost-effective and it avoids
the introduction of new – perhaps unwanted – partners.
Take a few simple steps now to plan for your company’s growth with a funded buy/sell agreement.
Ryan Ricci, BA
Life and Health Insurance Advisor
Desjardins Financial Security Independent Network
ryan.ricci @ dfsin.ca
T: 613 829-7874 x 256 C: 613 614-0197
(*For illustration purposes only. Based on a healthy male, age 35,
non-smoker, $250,000 coverage of term insurance at April 20, 2012. Rates
and conditions are subject to change.)
Prof Bruce @ 12:00 pm
StoneShare Wins Gold at the Mayor’s Breakfast
Tuesday 1 May 2012
OTTAWA (May 1, 2012) – The winners of the 2012 Exploriem
Bootstrap Awards Fastest Growing company were announced at the Mayor’s
Breakfast on April 27th at City Hall. From the five finalists StoneShare
won first place, Renaissance Repair and Supply was awarded silver and
YOUi Labs walked away with bronze.
On accepting their award StoneShare reflected on their
entrepreneurial journey to date. “We have been working so hard for so
long – this award is a welcome reminder to pause, take stock, and
celebrate,” said Nick Kellett, Chief Technical Officer of StoneShare.
“As an entrepreneur you have a debt of gratitude to the people who
help you. Entrepreneurs pay that back through hiring people and
supporting their local community. It’s an honour to be recognised in
front of our community,” said Len Andersen, Chief Executive Officer of
Renaissance Repair and Supply.
The Bootstrap Awards are unique in that they focus on
self-capitalized businesses. “Bringing in capital is twice as hard, but
it puts you in control of your own destiny. YOUi Labs has won many
awards, but bootstrapping is something that really resonates with us,”
added Jason Flick, President of YOUiLabs and bronze award winner.
Ginsberg Gluzman Fage and Levitz LLP (GGFL) see their sponsorship of
the awards as a way of supporting the local business community. “We are a
firm of entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs so this award is a natural
fit for us. Our practice is focused on helping entrepreneurs and family
owned businesses achieve their goals,” said Deborah Bourchier, Managing
Partner of GGFL.
Exploriem would like to thank all event and category sponsors for
continuing to support local entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurs and start-ups
create more jobs and opportunities than all government incentives put
together. Exploriem plays an important role in fostering start-ups and
entrepreneurs,” emphasizes Larry Poirier, Chief Executive Officer of
NITRO IT, Exploriem board member and Ottawa investor.
Notes to Editors (synopsis on winners follows)
Please email kennedy.alana @ gmail.com or call 613.315.4537 to obtain
a quote from or an interview from Exploriem/sponsors or the winners.
About the Winners:
StoneShare is the preferred destination in Ottawa-Gatineau and Toronto for SharePoint specific products and services.
Founded in 2007, they are a Microsoft Gold certified partner and
specialize in planning, development and implementation of
SharePoint-specific business solutions. Collectively, their team
provides decades of experience in Enterprise Content Management
Solutions, Collaboration Solutions and Enterprise and Self-Service
Renaissance Repair and Supply
In today’s competitive environment, business and infrastructure costs
are critical and re-used assets are an obvious option to increase
return on investment. Network quality and reliability are paramount to
the success of a telecom business. Renaissance Repair and Supply strives
to provide quality remanufactured assets that allow increased
profitability and reliability for its customers.
YOUi Labs next-generation user interface technology and services
enable tablet, smart phone and personal electronics manufacturers to
differentiate their products by offering a fresh and compelling user
experience. The YOUi Labs platform provides industry-leading graphics
performance that significantly reduces time to market and makes devices
fun and easy to use.
Exploriem is a registered Canadian not-for-profit organization. It
provides mentorship, conducts events, creates networking opportunities
and provides early stage funding and office incubator space to assist
young entrepreneurs in Eastern Ontario and West Quebec.
Today Exploriem is led by its Executive Director, Professor Bruce
Firestone who is perhaps best known as Founder of the Ottawa Senators.
He is also Entrepreneurship Ambassador at University of Ottawa’s Telfer
School of Management, Real Estate Broker with Century 21 Explorer Realty
Inc. and Author, Quantum Entity. For more information, please follow
@Exploriem and @ProfBruce
About the Bootstrap Awards
The Bootstrap Awards and Adawe Trade Show is an annual event hosted
by Exploriem to honour entrepreneurs in the cities of Ottawa and
Gatineau. Bootstrap Awards are unique in that they focus on businesses
that use self-capitalization techniques to fund their enterprises.
For more information contact:
Marketing & Communications
kennedy.alana @ gmail.com
Prof Bruce @ 9:56 am
Friday 27 April 2012
What is Beauty?
We came to Vancouver a few days ago to celebrate early stage career
Hnatyshyn Foundation Award winners at an event held at the VSO School of
Music. The concert hall at the VSO (Vancouver Symphony Orchestra) is
acoutistically and virbationally isolated not only from street traffic
outside its downtown location but from rehearsal rooms off to the side
where performers can practice their arts without either being disturbed
or disturbing others. It’s an amazing place.
Young performers included Jocelyn Lai (piano), Lambroula Maria Pappas
(opera), Barbara Kozicki (actor and Maori-trained poi firedancer), Eli
Bennett (tenor saxophone), Daniel Reynolds (piano) and Luke Sellick
At dinner a day later, I was asked by one of the women at our table
in a trendy Van City bistro about the role of arts in city-state
economies, “Without the arts, you have nothing, NOTHING. It isn’t just
about Richard Florida’s diversity index, or do-gooders supporting the
arts because it helps their social profile or gives them a kind of
street cred with the chattering classes.
“Look at the necklace you are wearing, your earings, your (little
black) dress, your makeup, your hair, your purse, your cute black pumps
with gold inlay, the stylish Audi you arrived in, your nails, the
frescoes on the walls and ceilings around us tonight, the presentation
of the foods we are eating, the dynamite uniforms the servers are
wearing, the culinary art that went into food prep, the fact that your
daughter is a budding dancer, the music on your iPod, the apps on your
iPad, the fantastic wedding ring you are wearing on the third finger of
your left hand, the cutlery we are using, the chinaware, the floral
arrangements, the renovation of this old building, the architecture of
the streetscape outside that promotes pedestrian movement and walkabout…
“And that is just some of the art I can see from where I am seated
right now. Then there is inanimate impact on your mental space: your
ability to think abstract thoughts, to enjoy, to love, to appreciate, to
create your own art whether it is great art or folk art, to feel one
with the universe, to learn and to grow and change. Does a piece of
music recall wonderful moments in your life, a certain smell bring back a
poignant memory, reading a favorite book bring tears to your
eyes/inspire you to be a better you?
“What would be left without the arts?”
Comment: What is Beauty?
The Critique of Judgment begins with an account of beauty.
The initial issue is: what kind of judgment is it that results in our
saying, for example, ‘That is a beautiful sunset’. Kant argues that such
aesthetic judgments (or ‘judgments of taste’) must have four key
distinguishing features. First, they are disinterested, meaning that we
take pleasure in something because we judge it beautiful, rather than
judging it beautiful because we find it pleasurable. The latter type of
judgment would be more like a judgment of the ‘agreeable’, as when I
say, ‘I like doughnuts’.
Second and third, such judgments are both universal and necessary.
This means roughly that it is an intrinsic part of the activity of such a
judgment to expect others to agree with us. Although we may say ‘beauty
is in the eye of the beholder’, that is not how we act. Instead, we
debate and argue about our aesthetic judgments – and especially about
works of art -and we tend to believe that such debates and arguments can
actually achieve something. Indeed, for many purposes, ‘beauty’ behaves
as if it were a real property of an object, like its weight or chemical
composition. But Kant insists that universality and necessity are in
fact a product of features of the human mind (Kant calls these features
‘common sense’), and that there is no objective property of a thing that
makes it beautiful.
Fourth, through aesthetic judgments, beautiful objects appear to be
‘purposive without purpose’ (sometimes translated as ‘final without
end’). An object’s purpose is the concept according to which it was made
(the concept of a vegetable soup in the mind of the cook, for example);
an object is purposive if it appears to have such a purpose; if, in
other words, it appears to have been made or designed. But it is part of
the experience of beautiful objects, Kant argues, that they should
affect us as if they had a purpose, although no particular purpose can
Oxley Flower, NPR News and Affairs
(Please note identity of this commenter has been changed, Ed.)
Some of the performances:
Mr. Sellick (trio):
Prof Bruce @ 9:49 am
Development Economics and Entrepreneurship
Livable Cities and Neo-Urbanism
Tuesday 17 April 2012
Ottawa’s Next $100 Million Tech Startup?
(Portions of this article originally appeared in Ottawa Business Journal, April 16, 2012: https://www.obj.ca/Opinion/Bruce-Firestone-5444.)
When you first meet Len Anderson in his company’s bustling
headquarters—a capacious Kanata office building on Leggett Drive which
looks more like a warehouse once you are inside—you are struck by his
sense of humour and calmness given that he is in the eye of a storm
which is taking Renaissance Repair from 0 to potentially $100 million in
sales in just six or seven years.
Renaissance has an irresistible value proposition—for OEMs like
Alcatel, Cisco, Huawei and Ciena or telecom companies like AT&T,
China Unicom, Verizon, Bell, Sprint, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Telefonica,
Docomo and Movil—about 80% of their networks run on legacy equipment,
highly complex hardware, software and firmware that almost no one knows
how to fix and repair anymore.
These companies all have huge teams of engineers and technicians but
they focus almost exclusively on leading edge technology. Still they
can’t afford to rip out tens, perhaps hundreds of billions of investment
in their systems every time something goes wrong with their older
equipment. And where can you find engineers who understand legacy
equipment? Why in the city that designed it in the first place—Ottawa
and Nortel engineers did that.
So Renaissance has a vast supply of engineering talent that can solve
these technical issues plus an endless demand for its services,
It sounded like an opportunity and a viable business model to Mr.
Anderson when Nortel folded underneath him. He was there for nine years
and five months running NT’s used equipment buyback, storage,
remanufacturing, remarketing and recycling business. He was responsible
for all used gear transactions globally which meant that when Nortel’s
last CEO, Mike Zafirovski, cratered the business, Len was ideally
situated to start out on his own.
“I got Renaissance off the ground with $20,000 from my credit card and an understanding wife,” he says smiling broadly.
(Mr. Anderson has used this line once or twice before, no doubt. His
family lives to the east—in Rockland—so his trip to and from work each
day in Kanata is one hour. He did not want to move them; they are
settled in that community and plan to remain there so he uses his
transit time for calls. We can only imagine what his cell phone bill
During his first year in business he did what most self-capitalized
entrepreneurs do—he hustled. He bought and sold (flipped) used
equipment—not much different from what you see on TV when they try to
flip houses at a profit. But in Len’s case, he actually had some
expertise—he possessed asymmetric information that allowed him to value
other people’s discards accurately. It’s a riff on buy low/sell high. By
the end of year one, he was sitting on $1 million in cash.
His next step was to build a bigger pipeline—to rent and fit up a
larger space. ‘How hard can that be?’ Len thought. Six months later, he
had his lease and a few months after that they were operational in their
new location having spent all their money and more on real estate. “It
was ugly,” Mr. Anderson says. “We didn’t know anything about real estate
but our Landlord certainly did. We negotiated uphill all the way. We
didn’t even know how to spell ‘BDC’ when we moved in,” he adds with a
BDC is obviously Business Development Bank of Canada who came to
their rescue with credit support as did Yves Tremblay, founder of Purple
Angel and Cesar Cesaratto who runs their team, as well as friend,
investor and confidant Larry Poirier from Nitro Microsystems.
Staff will double or triple in size this year to perhaps 60 or maybe
even 90 people. Len has found that startups put so much pressure on
everyone that some of his employees crumple and leave. Staff turnover
has been at 50% although that is coming down as they cull the herd and
learn to hire-up. They have brought in an experienced HR leader in Kim
Waite who has made meaningful changes in this crucial area.
There is no doubt in Mr. Anderson’s view that the talent they need is
here not in China, India or even the US, UK and Germany. Every time he
learns that an OEM has declared another product line a ‘legacy’, you can
hear cheering at Renaissance as well as at places like Pythian.
Pythian* is another Ottawa-based success story that works with legacy
products—they run database management networks for companies like CBS,
Electronic Arts, Telesat, Forbes, Toyota and Nordion.
(* You can read more about Pythian, How to Establish a Sustainable Competitive Advantage, here: https://www.eqjournal.org/?p=2482 and Becoming an Entrepreneur by Paul Vallee here: https://www.eqjournal.org/Paul-Vallee-pythian-speech-30-march-2011.pdf.)
Mr. Anderson does yoga and kickboxing plus he cross country skis
every night with a headlamp on his head—to try to unwind and relax. “You
know I never expected to run my own company and sometimes wonder how I
ended up doing this,” he adds, pointing with his arm to millions of
dollars worth of equipment sitting on shelving or being worked
on/repaired by engineers and technicians all in blue lab coats.
Asked if he is building the company to sell or hold on to, Mr.
Anderson says, “We’ve already had three inquiries about that but I have a
good support network and we want to see what we can do with all of
Professor Bruce M. Firestone, Founder, Ottawa Senators; Author and
Executive Director, Exploriem.org; Broker, Century 21 Explorer Realty;
Entrepreneurship Ambassador, Telfer School of Management, University of
Ottawa. Follow him on Twitter: @ProfBruce
Prof Bruce @ 4:09 pm
Bootstrap Entrepreneurs– Case Studies
Sunday 15 April 2012
10 Things You Can Learn about Sports and Business from Moneyball
What the Ottawa Senators did Right to Make the Playoffs 12 out of 13 Years
Television’s Golden Age could be Ahead not Behind
I am an Aaron Sorkin fan from his days writing A Few Good Men, The
American President and, of course, The West Wing, so it was with great
anticipation when friends of mine and I gathered to hold a tailgate
party in a local park on a cold fall evening before going to see the
film based on the book of the same name written by Michael Lewis. The
Book contains some favorite themes of mine—sports, business, role of the
underdog, differentiated value and teamwork amongst others.
What I especially like about Sorkin’s work is his dialogue—fast
paced, intelligent, real. But I felt that most of the glowing reviews
I’d read about the movie were undeserved so here’s mine: this film
production completely sucks. It lacks most of the elements that make any
filmgoer care about a movie—sympathetic characters, story development,
interesting subplots, adversity overcome, romance/love interest,
delight, imagination, surprise, intimacy, character development,
captivating storyline, climax…it’s relationships that matter to most
people. Without the well-told romance between Rose DeWitt Bukater
(played by Kate Winslet) and Jack Dawson (Leo Di Caprio) to drive the
plot, James Cameron’s Titanic would have been a stinker as well as a
sinker instead of being one of the top grossing films ever. Pretty much
the only element that I think Moneyball had going for it was that a few
scenes authentically capture the inner workings of the management layer
of pro sports teams.
Billy Beane played by an underwhelming Brad Pitt is a loner who is
hard to like. In fact, no one likes him except for his daughter which
itself is a subplot that goes absolutely nowhere. And Peter Brand
(played by Jonah Hill) is one of the least interesting characters to
co-star in a major Hollywood film in quite awhile and that is saying a
lot given the abysmal quality of most Hollywood productions lately.
I am having a hard time thinking of any recent Hollywood films that
can come close to the writing, acting and directing seen in HBO series
Game of Thrones, AMC’s Mad Men, Showtime’s Shameless or for that matter
ABC’s LOST. Could it be that television’s golden era is ahead not
behind? I think that is a real possibility especially as the Internet
eats TV so made-for-TV serials will mutate to made-for-Internet ones.
Television-land should be a more interesting place to work than
Hollywood and I think Steve Jobs knew that before he passed away.
Your TV, once it’s equipped with a Siri-like AI, will transmute into
an omnipresent media wall that will be a place you look to for
entertainment, communication and help. It will be a workplace too. That
is why Steve Jobs was rumored to have spoken from his deathbed ‘I have
solved it’ or words to that effect. I’m quite sure this was his
direction; it is also the direction I took in my new novel Quantum
Entity, We Are All ONE (June 2012). You can read the Dedication and
Foreword here: https://www.eqjournal.org/?p=3426.
Game of Thrones reportedly cost (see: June Thomas’ excellent article in Slate.com on the economics of these series, March 29, 2012)
HBO between $50 and $60 million for Season One (10 episodes) and
subsequent seasons are bound to cost more via wage creep as actors,
directors, writers and others demand a bigger piece of the pie. Rumor
has it that HBO plans to make 70 hours of the series (seven seasons) so
its overall production budget could easily top half a billion dollars.
Now writers, actors and directors tend to get better at their craft the
more time they spend with a project and with their characters. Seven
years is a long time in anyone’s career so it should come as no surprise
that made-for-TV and (in the future) made-for-Internet series will be
much better than most films released widely through traditional
channels. As cablevision companies get disintermediated as the Internet
devours TV, HBO’s audience and subscription base will increase vastly in
size and they know that.
Director Bennett Miller lets loose the dogs of ageism—everyone over
50 in his film is either fat or ugly or preferably both. They are also
universally stupid, obtuse, resistant to change, over-the-hill detritus
getting in the way of progress. Newsflash Mr. Miller: I know many old
30-year olds. You only get old when you think you know everything and
that can just as easily happen at 30 as at 60. As long as you are open
to learning new things, you will NEVER GET OLD.
Having said this, here are ten lessons you can take from the film
(and book) that are worthwhile for entrepreneurs (and sports
entrepreneurs) to know:
1. You can take advantage of asymmetric information
which Billy and Peter do admirably by substituting data for opinion on
up and coming baseball players. However, this is not new. The Ottawa
Senators had computers (laptops) and analysts on the floor of the NHL
draft from their very first draft in 1991. This was to do analysis in
close to real time of draft picks and potential trades. Pouring
resources into drafting, data collection and analysis allowed the Sens
to be in the playoffs 12 years out of 13, second only to the Detroit Red
Wings. It became known as the ‘Ottawa model’ in the National League
although Sam Pollock (with the Canadiens), Bill Torrey (with the
Islanders) and Glen Sather (with the Oilers) were the real pioneers in
the field albeit without assistance from modern computers.
2. You are either all-in (body, mind and soul/heart, brain and gut) or you are nowhere.
3. If you do not have an optimistic, unreasoning BELIEF
that you are right, you will fail because you will leave your path too
soon. Glen Sather told me the best trades he ever did were the ones he
didn’t do. One year after the Oilers won the President’s Trophy (as the
top team in the League), they got beat out in the playoffs and that
summer fans and media were calling for him to get rid of key players.
‘Gretzky’s a bum.’ ‘Messier is useless.’ Instead, he did nothing at all.
The next year, the Oilers won their first Stanley Cup going 16 and 2 in
4. You need buy-in by everyone in your organization and
teamwork—not just players and managers, everyone from top execs to
ticket, beer and merchandise sellers…
5. You have to hate losing more than you like winning.
6. In most team sports, more money is not necessarily more likely to produce great results.
In the NHL, you need to feel like the guy next to you and across the
dressing room from you is your brother otherwise there is no way you can
last the daily grind of two months, four rounds and up to 28 bruising,
intense games. Top revenue teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and New
York Rangers do not dominate the NHL. Even in baseball, money
by itself is not going to produce a World Series champ. The same is true
in business—VC funded enterprises are not necessarily more successful
than self-capitalized ones. In fact, they are almost surely less likely
to survive since the latter spend most of their time getting close early
and often to their customers. Ever heard of a business with fast
growing revenues failing?
7. When I was with the Sens, we looked closely at $$$ spent per
point produced and benchmarked ourselves against other NHL teams this
way. Ottawa was consistently at or near the top by this measure
of efficiency. This is your tooth to tail ratio. In most businesses,
functions like administration and accounting are tail, sales are teeth.
Having more teeth and less tail is usually a good thing. We had all of
our employees spend some time in ticket sales so when someone in the
media or a fan said: ‘Why not just give Alexei another million?’ our
people had some idea how hard it was to sell another $1,000,000 in
tickets, merchandise and beer. Often big money teams will have a lot of
dough invested in tail, not so much in teeth (i.e., player
development/ticket sales/sponsorship deals.) The real core competencies
of any sports biz are: product on the field/ice/court/pitch and
relationships with your fans and corporate supporters. That’s it, that’s
all. Bill Wirtz from the Chicago Blackhawks told me that and he was
8. You have to be tough sometimes. You do have to fire
people from time to time—better for them and better for your
organization. There’s no way around it. You also have to have rules of
behavior for your organization and that includes players. When you get a
lot of young people together with a lot of money, stuff happens so a
code of conduct and an expectation that everyone will live up to it is
very important, even more so now in the age of Twitter. When I was
coaching 10 and 11 year olds (competitive soccer) years ago, we had two
simple rules—when the coach is talking, you’re not and if you don’t
practice, you don’t play. Our two best players didn’t like practicing so
I benched them. Their parents went ballistic even taking their
complaints to our soccer association board, thankfully to no avail.
Eventually it got so bad I had to ask them to withdraw from the team,
i.e., I fired our two best players. Nevertheless, that year we went to
the finals before losing by one golden goal—a great scissor kick by our
opponent’s star striker. That team had character and felt about each
other the way a band of brothers would. Our leader on the field was one
of the most wonderful 11-year olds I have ever known, special in every
way. He died that winter in a horrible skiing accident—he was racing,
helmet and all, but went off course and hit a tree. Over 500 people went
to his funeral; he touched so many lives at such a young age.
9. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Just because
someone looks like a player doesn’t make him one. One investor I know
only invests in firms run by CEOs who are 6 feet or less or run by women
on the theory that those CEOs had a much harder struggle to get there
than someone who is a tall white male.
10. Teams take on the character of their owners—passionate
owner? You’ll have a passionate team. Analytical one? Same thing.
Absentee owner? This can be a problem since you need at the center of
each bee hive, one heart/one brain pumping out instructions and setting
all the horses in their traces so the chariot can wing around the arena
at warp speed.
One other thing that I think the book and film captured
accurately—Billy Beane could not watch his own team (Oakland As) play. I
get that. I have a tough time watching the Sens play especially in the
playoffs. I have discussed this with a few close women friends, one of
whom told me, “I know what the problem is! You’re not the Founder of the
Sens, you’re their mother!”
Your emotional investment is so huge that when bad things happen to
your team (your child), it’s personal. And if it isn’t, well, it won’t
matter anyway cuz your team will suck.
Prof Bruce @ 12:05 pm
Rules? There are no rules in entrepreneurship.
Value Differentiation and ‘Pixie Dust’
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