Category Archives: Business

Episode 59: Digital Democracy and our “Digitzenship”



People believed that new technology would increase efficiency, productivity, and human capability while generally driving down cost, waste and poverty. Politically, many hoped the success of technological development would ultimately promote the values of democracy empowering both the companies and individuals within. Unfortunately, the contrary has taken place, as the “citizens” of this digital society more accurately resemble undocumented residents with trivial influence on culture and policy. These digital dwellers are internet users at the mercy of despotic powers who exercise their control though products, services, and technologies.The data generated by digital dwellers is being taken away and sold to the highest bidder without compensating its owners. It is the despotic digital powers that pray upon the dwellers, completely stripping away their individual, political, and economic liberties. The monopolized platforms and products continue to oppress and consume the digital world by coercing the digital dwellers into apathy. Personal freedom, privacy, and value are consistently being deprived as many decisions are made in the name of us, despite us. However, there is a common theme of rebellious objection that we have seen throughout the history of societal development. In the digital society this theme is exemplified in a call for decentralization. In a decentralized digital economy, we shall only profit from our own digital assets. We shall be in complete control of our digital assets without losing any value to negotiation, time, or bias. It is imperative to recognize that we have arrived at a crucial breaking point that will either liberate or further oppress our digital freedom. We must acknowledge the esoteric threats posed by the system and its congruence with the despotic powers that control the usage and environment of technology. Fellow Digitzens, it falls upon our shoulders to uphold these rights and fight against any form of centralization or despotism that comes from any organism, living or nonliving.

Bio:

Wallace Lynch is a Serial entrepreneur, seasoned tech-media expert, startup community connector, associate professor, and economist. Founder and Chief Economist of Alpha Token, HSHub, MenuMeet, JianyueApp; Cofounder of Svinsight, SVACE. Columbia University Ph.D.

Twitter handle @AlphaToken_ATK
relevant #hastags: #blockchain, #digitzen, #creator, #content, #content economy, #youtuber, #influencer, #crypto, #cryptocurrenty, #student, #digitaldemocracy


Episode 58: 3D printing a Colony on Mars



As humanity moves closer to our vision to settle the moon, and then Mars, the ability to generate critical infrastructure “on site” in space becomes increasingly important for cost control, timelines and safety. 3D printing with indigenous Mars materials in an autonomous robotic way, before humans set foot on Mars may be the key. My team has been participating in the NASA Centennial Challenge to 3D print a Mars Habitat for the past 3 years to develop this concept and technology.

In this presentation I will first illustrate how our adventures started from the garage, while being unfunded and understaffed. We borrowed key hardware components, including a pasta machine that substituted for a clay printer extruder and a 10 foot robotic arm, from industry and academic partners. We even generated our own Mars regolith simulant based on volcanic basalt rocks we handpicked in Northern Israel.

Despite many challenges, ranging from limited access to materials, short deadlines, and zero dollars in funding, we were able to print the first physical deliverable, which significantly outperformed the NASA required minimum in initial mechanical testing. In delivering the second physical deliverable, we struggled with optimizing the curing time and heat exposure to the printing nozzle. However, we overcame operational challenges, recruited new team members from around the world, and increased the printing accuracy.

The BubbleBase team was recently “adopted” by Caltech, in a strategic move to enhance our US presence and increase manpower working on the project, especially in the field of robotics and autonomy. The talk will elaborate on additional challenges currently facing the team, including: merging teams from different disciplines and cultures, technology challenges in material science, robotics and civil engineering, funding requirements, and operational challenges. It will conclude with the team’s plans for the future (on Earth, and on Mars) and how you can follow our work and get involved in the project.

Bio:

Helen Wexler is an award winning “ArchiTech,” positioned at the intersection of architecture and technology. She is the founder of Caltech-BubbleBase, an aerospace project developing technology to 3D print and robotically assemble housing on Mars for the NASA Centennial Challenge. She has served as architect in leading New York and Austria based firms before becoming a technology analyst in the VC industry.

Helen was previously Director of the The Jnext Hi-Tech & Entrepreneurship Program at the Jerusalem Development Authority, where she oversaw the emerging tech ecosystem of Israel’s capital city, while innovating economic development policy. Ms. Wexler holds a degree in Architecture from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design where she is Lecturer on “Technology Paradigms in Architecture.” She is a graduate of the MEET MIT Computer Science Program and Israel Academy of Arts and Sciences (outstanding honors). Helen was named to Forbes Israel 30 under 30 list and has recently completed the International Space Studies Program as an Ilan Ramon Scholarship Fellow.


Episode 57: Building Collaborative Intelligence



Learning to think with people who think differently than you is what collaboration is all about. Unfortunately, collaboration goes out the window when major disagreements strike. People compete with each other, making sure their position or interests are secured first. Or they avoid the conflict altogether, which only makes matters worse. These reactions can kill an otherwise excellent business idea, simply because people haven’t been trained to collaboratively disagree with one another.

Collaborative Intelligence measures the ability of a person to: (1) respectfully assert themselves; (2) remain open to new ideas, adjusting their position; (3) understanding how the other side feels and using that as an additional data point; and (4) ultimately knowing how to work with the other side toward a solution. Born from his work training, coaching, and facilitating founder-level conversations, Bryant has developed a methodology called Collaborative Disagreement™ that builds founders’ Collaborative Intelligence capacity. His work even saved one venture-backed startup from nearly exploding after a prominent co-founder decided to quit. Now, that same startup/co-founder team is back on track with an ICO offering coming this year, having recently revamped their company culture and market strategy. Increasing their Collaborative Intelligence capacity ultimately saved them.

Bio:

Bryant is Founder and CEO of Workplace Collaborations, a conflict resolution and negotiation training business located in Los Angeles, CA. Bryant partners with startups to get a bird’s eye view of the co-founder relationship as well as the company culture to quickly assess and correct problematic behaviors and organizational inefficiencies. He trains, coaches, and facilitates high-level discussions between founders, and has worked with venture-backed and early stage startups in travel, edTech, health, e-commerce, transportation, blockchain and cryptocurrency for the past three years.

Prior to this, Bryant was a Federal Mediator for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission where he negotiated employment discrimination complaints in the $500,000 range. He remembers his first mediation that he conducted where a woman, who was alleging gender-based and national origin discrimination, cried when she got the result she was looking for. Upon seeing her reaction, Bryant knew he was hooked and had found his calling – the rest is history.

Bryant received his Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Columbia University, is a certified Mediator through the New York Peace Institute, and is a first-generation Mexican-American. He speaks fluent Spanish, is a proud coffee addict, and when he’s not working, enjoys nature, road biking, and checking things off his bucket list, which includes visiting a new country every year (this year he’s going to Portugal!).

Speaker email: bryant@workplacecollaborations.com


Episode 56: From Carmen Sandiego to Vroman’s: Why I Write Fiction for less than Minimum Wage



For much of his life, Ken Goldstein was the consummate Silicon Valley insider. In the 1990s, he worked at Brøderbund Software, in charge of all things related to the Carmen Sandiego franchise of computer games. When Brøderbund was acquired by its rival in 1998, Ken moved to Disney Online where under the mentorship of Michael Eisner, his team launched Toontown and the entertainment giant’s other early forays into interactive online entertainment.

In 2006, Ken took the reins as CEO & Chairman of Shop.com, a comparison shopping marketplace with a patented single cart checkout solution backed by Bill Gates, Amazon.com, Yahoo and Oak Investment Partners. In 2010, Shop.com was acquired by Market America where the marketplace continues to thrive.

Then Ken returned to his true passion: writing. With a nod to social realism, he set out to paint the world of technology madness in authentic fiction. His first novel, This Is Rage, was published in 2013 and optioned for Broadway. His second book, Endless Encores, was published in 2015. His third book: From Nothing: A Novel of Technology, Bar Music, and Redemption, releases on June 12, 2018.

Ken will talk about his new book, his time in and out of Silicon Valley, his experience running some of the most beloved properties in online entertainment, and share some of the key school-of-hard-knocks lessons that made him both a successful tech executive, and later on a successful author. Feel free to ask him really awkward questions about what it’s like to survive in the unforgiving worlds of literature and technology. Hint: technology is way easier!

Vroman’s Bookstore will be on site with all of Ken’s books available for purchase.

About the author:

Ken Goldstein advises start-ups and established companies on brands, creative talent, e-commerce, and digital media strategy. He publishes the business blog CorporateIntel.us and is currently chairman of the board at ThriftBooks Global and Good Men Media. Previously he served as Chairman & CEO of SHOP.COM, Executive Vice President & Managing Director of Disney Online, and VP/Executive Publisher of Entertainment & Education for Broderbund Software. Ken is the author of three novels all published by The Story Plant.

About the new book:

“From Nothing: A Novel of Technology, Bar Music, and Redemption” is the story of an entrepreneur who finds himself in an awful fix and ducks into his previous life as a musician in hopes of waiting out the war. It doesn’t work. The book’s protagonist can no more escape his present than he can remake his past. What he can do is try to hold onto his values, his belief in what matters to him, and figure out how to start over again in a world that says it believes in innovation but only seems to reward the outcomes of success that are entirely unpredictable.

Victor Selo had blown up his life. A wannabe rock star turned tech savant, he’d wagered his Silicon Valley executive position on a corporate inside straight and lost. Having security escort him out of the building was the bestthing that happened to him that day. The rest left him in the hospital, broken, broke, and with no prospects.

That’s when a shadowy stranger with questionable motives came with an offer: a chance to get his life back – and better – if he simply cooperates. It would require becoming invisible for a while, but he would be hiding in the spotlight, playing guitar in a Vegas cover band. Reluctantly, Victor accepts and begins an odyssey he never could have imagined. One that involves a charismatic lead singer who owns the stage but aspires to own an Elvis wedding chapel, a mesmerizing woman who can play anything on her keyboards and can really play with Victor’s head, and two specters from his old life offering competing devil’s bargains. Suddenly, multiple futures are opening up in front of Victor – each comes with potentially catastrophic risk…


Episode 54: The First $250 Million – A Case Study in Branding, Failures & Self-Confidence



Over the past decade, three of Echo-Factory’s clients have achieved more than $250 million in growth. The agency’s founder and CEO, Mike Schaffer, will look at the role branding, marketing and advertising played in each company’s growth.

Intuition suggests that what works in one marketplace won’t work in another. But while all three of these companies operated in very different spaces, their success can be traced to a shared, closely-related set of decisions made by their founders and leaders. Mike’s talk will cover those decisions and how they can be applied to any company looking to achieve rapid growth.

BIO:

Mike Schaffer founded Echo-Factory in 2008. In less than two years, the company had grown into a diversified and award-winning full service agency. Today, Echo-Factory is designed to work as an in-house marketing department for clients who are ready to commit to significant, rapid growth. Echo-Factory works with a range of clients, specializing in the consumer goods, clean tech, healthcare and aerospace markets. Mike is also an organizer for Friday Coffee Meeutp, an advisor to LA CleanTech’s portfolio companies and a regular contributor to CSQ magazine on the topics of branding and marketing.

Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-schaffer-98518213/

Twitter: @echofactory


Episode 53: Interview with Vince Major & Jorge Garcia of Alpha Token.



This is the first episode of a new segment for the Friday Coffee Meet-Up Podcast. I’ll be interviewing tech start ups in Pasadena and around the Los Angeles area. In this inaugural episode I spoke with Pasadena start up Alpha Token about how they’re creating a brand new ecosystem for content creators powered by a new cryptocurrency.


Episode 52: Mentor, Advisor or Coach? What’s the Difference and Which One Is Right for You.



In the world of advice giving, how do we know we are getting something valuable? Often, our ability to move forward or level-up professionally requires assistance, but we aren’t always sure what kind of help we need. Pressure, stress, new frontiers and blind-spots influence our judgment and ability to make distinctions among service providers. It is important when engaging in new professional relationships we take some basic steps to prevent misfires and misunderstandings.

In this session, senior leadership consultant and executive coach, Dan Stover, will offer tips and guidance in choosing wisely in our engagement in professional service relationships. In his decade of providing mental health crisis intervention, emotional intelligence and leadership development services, Dan will share with Innovate Pasadena the most important considerations when it comes to finding the right help.

Bio

Dan Stover is the Senior Consultant and Manager of the Los Angeles office of Integrated Leadership Systems. His work as an executive coach and organizational consultant for entrepreneurs, mid-market and publicly traded companies increases profitability through emotionally intelligent leadership and business unit alignment.

He was born and raised in rural Ohio, lives in downtown Los Angeles and has three degrees. He is deeply passionate about mental health, community development and nature conservation. He spends his free time indulging the arts and the outdoors.


Episode 51: Stars Aligning: How Southern California Could Be the Next Great Tech Ecosystem



As a twenty year veteran of the SoCal tech/start-up ecosystem, Andy brings a thoughtful perspective about SoCal’s journey to becoming a vibrant tech hub. In his new role as the first executive director of the Alliance for SoCal Innovation ( http://www.alliancesocal.org/ ) Andy is chartered with helping accelerate SoCal’s ascendancy to becoming the world’s next great tech ecosystem. He will share a comprehensive assessment and key insights based on a newly published report by Boston Consulting Group commissioned by the Alliance for Southern California Innovation (full written report at https://www.bcg.com/publications/2018/stars-aligning-southern-california-next-great-tech-ecoysystem.aspx ). Learn about how SoCal stacks-up, where we are doing well, where we need help and the role for organizations like the Alliance and Innovate Pasadena to “bend the curve” on this vital effort to create start-ups, quality jobs and address key challenges facing society.

Bio:

Andy Wilson

Executive Director

Alliance for SoCal Innovation

Andy is a leader in the Southern Californian innovation ecosystem and has started, led or invested in more than two dozen tech start-ups. In addition to leading the Alliance (www.alliancesocal.org (http://www.alliancesocal.org/)) as Executive Director, he serves on the City Council for the City of Pasadena and he is a founder of Innovate Pasadena (www.innovatepasadena.org(http://www.innovatepasadena.org/)), which is dedicated to advancing the Eastside of Los Angeles as a vibrant innovation center for deep tech.

Previously, as founder of Momentum Ventures, an early stage tech accelerator and venture fund, he personally led more than a half dozen SoCal tech start-ups and invested in almost a dozen others. He previously held senior executive roles (President, SVP Product, CIO, COO) at Overture Services/Yahoo!, RiverOne, Bowne & Co and RR Donnelley & Sons. He has extensive board experience in not-for-profit and community organizations such as Pacific Oaks College, Pasadena Heritage and STEAMCODERS. He is on the board or an advisor to a number of tech firms including Virtualitics, Expanse3D, Vincente Capital and Bryce Capital. He is a regular speaker at entrepreneurs’ events and business schools and was named one of the 50 Most Innovative Men in the San Gabriel Valley. Andy holds an engineering degree with honors from Dartmouth College and received his MBA with a concentration in operations and technology management from Harvard Business School.


Episode 50: Coffee with the Mayor



Description: While Pasadena is consistently named one of the best cities to live year after year, City leaders also want to make it a great place to work. Mayor Terry Tornek and City Manager Steve Mermell will be stopping by on May 4th to check-in with Pasadena’s innovators and talk about the latest developments and initiatives happening in Pasadena. But, they’ll also want to hear from you! This is your chance to engage with local officials and share your thoughts on ways the City can make Pasadena even more attractive for business and talent.

Bio: Terry Tornek

Terry Tornek was born and raised in New York City and moved to Pasadena from Massachusetts in 1982 to accept the position of Planning Director. He was hired because of his history of neighborhood improvement and historic preservation while serving as Planning Director of Springfield, Mass. He also served as a member of the Springfield City Council. Terry was Pasadena’s Planning Director for 3 years and helped to rewrite the Zoning Ordinance, the General Plan and establish the redevelopment plan for Old Pasadena. After leaving city government, Terry built a career in real estate as a developer and manager of residential & commercial properties all over Southern California.

He remained active in Pasadena affairs through his 20 year service as a Board Member of Pasadena Neighborhood Housing Services, a non-profit organization devoted to affordable housing in Northwest Pasadena.

In 2005, Sid Tyler appointed Terry to the Planning Commission. He also served as a member of the Design Commission. He was elected to represent District 7 on the City Council in April, 2009, was reelected in 2013 and was then elected as Mayor in April, 2015.

Mayor Tornek serves as Chairman of the Finance Committee, is a member of the Municipal Services, Public Safety, and Legislative Policy Committees, is the City Council appointee to the Fire and Police Retirement Board, is Pasadena’s representative to the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, and is President of the Burbank Airport Authority. He is deeply involved in the City’s financial planning, affordable housing and the City’s planning and development decision-making process. Terry graduated from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School with a degree in Public and International Affairs. He also earned a Master of Science in Urban Planning from Columbia University’s School of Architecture. He served in the Army National Guard and Reserves for 6 years. Terry and his wife Maria have been married for 50 years. They have 3 children and 7 grandchildren.

Bio: Steve Mermell

Steve Mermell was appointed City Manager by unanimous vote of the City Council and assumed his duties February 15, 2016. As City Manager he is the Chief Administrative Officer of the City and is charged with supervising, coordinating, and administering the various functions of the City. He has direct responsibility for all departments, divisions, and offices of the City with the exception of the City Attorney/Prosecutor and City Clerk which are separately appointed by the City Council.


Episode 49: 13 Questions to Help You Cut Out Small Talk and Build Genuine Connections



Topic: 13 Questions to Help You Cut Out Small Talk and Build Genuine Connections

Tom Amestoy, Founder & CEO of Focus Out, talks about the missed opportunities to genuinely connect with others when we engage in “small talk.” Scientific studies have revealed that the types of conversations we have truly impact our wellbeing. These findings show that the good life is social and conversationally deep rather than isolated and superficial. Tom will tell us about groups that have banned small talk to great effect. He will offer tips on how to host such an event and will share 13 questions to start great conversations that lead to deep and genuine connections.

Bio

In 2011, Tom left a 19-year sales career for a national print manufacturer to become Director, Business Development at InnerWorkings (NSDQ: INWK), a global marketing services agency that disrupts his former industry. He quickly realized he needed to network in a new way and connect at a different level than he previously had. He found he was faking it as he was floating through rooms full of people gathered to network. He decided that there was a better way and along with his cofounder, he created Focus Out with the intention of facilitating genuine connections between businesspeople who could help each other without expecting anything in return.

Focus Out (www.focusout.co) was the first “other-focused,” pro-social business membership organization in Pasadena. The organization now has 6 chapters from Burbank to Claremont, with plans to expand to DTLA, OC, the South Bay and anywhere else networking is broken.

There are plenty of other fascinating things about Tom and he is excited to help you genuinely connect with him to find out.

Twitter: @TomAmestoy

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/thomas-amestoy-abb8093

tom.amestoy@focusout.co

thomas.amestoy@inwk.com