Oyster shells have a beneficial shelf life

Oysters have long been hailed to be an aphrodisiac. That may be the case, but their shells have been quite useful in protecting and recreating shoreline. They have a beneficial effect long after their alleged aphrodisiac influence. How so?

Per a PBS Newshour news report in June, rather than building a sea wall, there are several locations in Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, et al that are using mesh bagged oyster shells to stack in the water near the shores of bays, coves and inlets. They create an organic wall that facilitates the growth of marsh grasses between the land and barrier. Living organisms can be found in the water such as various crabs and fishes. The natural growth of the marsh grasses and collected mud is noticeable even after one year.

From a cost standpoint, one family noted the cost differential is significant. The oyster shells are 1/4 of the cost of the wall ($3,000 vs $12,000) on their property. Plus, the wall needs to be replaced at some point, while the oyster shells do not.The word has gotten out, so now there is a waiting list for the oyster shells in these areas.

Rebuilding the natural marshes and wetlands are tactics to combat the loss of shoreline due to climate change. These marshes provide a needed natural barrier or buffer as hurricanes hit land and offer oxygen to combat carbon build up.

Per a “Scientfic American” article in April, 2017, “Coastal wetlands are among the best marine ecosystems to fight climate change, new research confirms. A study published this week in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment compared the carbon sequestration potential of a handful of marine ecosystems and found that mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass meadows have the greatest impact on climate change.”

This is another reason to order oysters on the half shell. But, ask the restaurant what they are doing with the shells. Make them aware of this terrific use if they are not. It is truly an organically utile idea, aphrodisiac or not.




Our slip is beginning to show

I read two interesting and related articles in the past two days which reveal our slip is beginning to show. The first article spoke of the noticeable decline in travel to the US since the ill-conceived travel ban was instituted by our new President.

The decline is from multiple countries beyond the boundaries of the seven countries noted by the President and has been termed the “Trump Slump.” The lost revenue on our mainland travel is estimated at $185 million per The Global Business Travel Association as reported in The Guardian.

The second article noted the fall off in foreign students interested in attending US colleges and universities. The reason cited is not feeling welcomed by the new administration. This is precisely the kind of immigration we want. The reason is “innovation is portable” per former Reagan and Clinton advisor David Smick. If we attract and retain foreign students, their ideas will bear fruit here. And, jobs initially surround the innovator.

These glimpses of our slip are just the beginning of a decline in revenue should we continue forward with our inward, nationalistic focus. Our slip will show even more and the impact on our growth will be more noticeable.

In an earlier post called “You cannot shrink to greatness,” global trade is accretive to the world’s economy, including ours. By not being welcoming, we will be harming only ourselves. This is a key reason some economists have predicted a malaise or recession under this President once the market euphoria contends with reality.

Words and actions have consequences. If we want to be a global country, we need to act like one.

While US ponders bathrooms, we are missing a larger picture

David Smick, the author of “The World is Curved” and former economic advisor to Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp and Bill Clinton, notes that “innovation is portable.” His attention getting comment is if we don’t grease the skids like we have in the past, innovation will occur elsewhere. And, where innovation occurs, the initial manufacturing will be there as well.

On this D-Day anniversary, an interesting article appears which should make our leaders stand up and take notice around this concept of innovation. In essence, this article called “7 Reasons why European Cities are going to beat US Cities as Hubs for Innovation,” says America needs to not forget what made us great and start improving what we do in cities to attract, retain and reward innovators.

To be frank, we also need to stop spending our time debating issues that matter little in day-to-day matters and start focusing on major initiatives that will move this country forward such as addressing the new technologies, investing in hubs of growth, retraining workers and training students, and investing in our infrastructure and environment. Debating where folks go to the bathroom and discriminating against people is not where we should be spending our time. This is small minded and unconstitutional. It also hamstrings financial growth and innovation.

Rather than repeat this article, let me merely list the seven reasons and encourage you to click on the link below. Relative to the US:

  1. Europe has better designed cities
  2. Europe has more smart cities
  3. Europe has more rapid adoption of soft infrastructure for entrepreneurship
  4. Europe has better safety nets and less inequality
  5. US has lost its leadership in key benchmarks of innovation
  6. US has more venture capital, but it matters less with other sources
  7. Europe makes it easier to be an entrepreneur

The US has a tremendous university system which draws people from all over, but access to those systems may not require people to move here as much as they did with online learning. Also, when they do come, we need to make sure we keep talented people here and not build actual and figurative walls around our country – I worry more about the figurative ones than actual ones.

We have pockets of success, but unless we focus more on this and less on issues of little import, we will miss an opportunity to invest in keeping America competitive. In our favor is a freer, more mixed society which provides all genders, races, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc. opportunity. Leaders of companies should know that you never know where innovation will come from, so you better make the communication avenues available to all people.

Let me close with an easy example. Before he died, Steve Jobs designed Apple’s new headquarters. He purposefully placed small meeting rooms with white boards and technology access along the paths to the restrooms and breakrooms. Why? So, that when people bumped into each other and discovered what each was working on, they could easily pop in a room to share ideas. That is precisely how we should design our hubs of innovation. If we do not, we will fall behind.



Words are easy, go do something about it

Although most of my jobs have been in consulting firms, I did work for about four years for one of my old clients and had a tremendous experience. Yet, as this company had a more traditional pyramid structure, with a CEO, executives, managers, line managers and staff with more of each as you descended in the ranks, I observed unhealthy behavior that was caused by a self-preservation mentality. Many people had good ideas, but very few people who would get up out of their chair and go do them? Why? It is primarily due to the fear of failure or being ridiculed for the idea.

This business example is metaphor for life. I write this today after my post a few days ago called “Teach your Children – a Tribute to CSNY” which can be read if you scroll down to the following post. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young had several songs about following your dreams. They emphasized setting sail to chase them and not be like others standing on the shore lamenting past decisions not to do so. Dreams and good ideas should be nurtured more and explored. I often quote Dr. Phil who says “the only difference between a dream and a goal is a timeline.”

In the business book “Built to Last” which I referenced in a comment on Grow Up Proper’s post this morning at, http://growupproper.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/how-big-are-your-goals/, the concept of setting BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) is an attribute of the most successful companies. They had big ideas and big goals and set their sights to achieve them. In this book the author talks about the demise of Texas Instruments, who was a darling of Wall Street at the beginning of the 1970s. A new leadership group came on board and actually scoffed at people in public forum when dumb ideas were presented. So, guess what happened? People stop sharing ideas and the bloom came off the company rose.

Getting back to my earlier example about the pyramid company, this was a very conservative, steady-as-she-goes company. People were scared to be daring. Daring to this company was wearing a blue shirt with a tie. So, people with good ideas did not share them very much. The ideas were not nurtured. The ideas were not brainstormed. So, this company never led the pack. They were big on operational excellence, but were not known for being out in front, with a few exceptions. The exceptions tended to be in smaller business units which did not get the same level of scrutiny at the corporate level. In the more visible business units, people tended to protect their turf and not dare to share. They would not get up out of their chair and go do something about good ideas.

In another more global company I worked with, some of the better ideas were created in Australia, the UK or in one of  the local US offices, as they were more removed from the headquarter city. These more remote locations felt they had license to try more entrepreneurial ideas. When they were successful and had numbers to show it, they would share the concepts for others to use. There is an old business line to just do it and apologize later.

Before he died, Steve Jobs designed the new Apple headquarters. He designed it in a way so that there would be more chance encounters with others. Each hall had accessible meeting rooms with white boards, etc. where people who bumped into each other going to get a cup of coffee or taking a rest break, could pop into a room and brainstorm on ideas each other had. Jobs, as difficult a person as he was, knew the value of idea sharing. I read somewhere in a magazine about improving higher education that innovative ideas occur at the fringes of disciplines. So, if you enable the fringe settings to occur, the innovation will be nurtured.

In California, there is a company that consults with people like Apple and others around innovation. They are thrown a problem and put teams together of people with different disciplines and backgrounds. As a result, this diversity of thought and perspective literally bubbles over with innovation. They not only do something about their ideas, they make them better through multiple brainstorming sessions that lead to a more elegant idea that is executable and sustainable. They get up out of their chair and go do something about it.

The future will change rapidly in terms of innovation. Computer power is doubling every 18 months or so. Your hand-held device has more power than most older PCs and some minicomputers (yes that is a term). The innovators have to perpetuate new ideas or could go out of business. Think of Blockbuster or Palm Pilot, e.g. And, the pyramid company I mentioned above no longer exists. They were bought as they did not grow fast enough in an industry where greater size meant more efficiency. Ironically, the company that bought them has since been bought as well. I am not saying”innovate or die,” but if you are not mindful of where your industry is headed, you will not have the necessary amount of innovation to stay up to date.

So, do not be afraid to share your ideas and go do something about them. Don’t be afraid to chart a course for your dreams and set sail. Words are easy, so get up out of your chair and go do something about it.