Last week, I read Half Broke Horses, a true-life novel by Jeannette Walls. It was fabulous, as I knew it would be because the first book I read from Walls (her childhood memoir called The Glass Castle) I read in one sitting. Within reading the first few pages of both books, Walls captivates you with her incredible story-telling skills. Previously a MSNBC.com columnist, Walls knows how to craft a story, especially when the content is all about her family’s history. Half Broke Horses tells the tale of Lily Casey Smith, Walls’ grandmother. The novel is “Laura-Ingalls-Wilder-esque” in its unbelievable (but true!) accounts of living off the land, surviving tornadoes, draughts, and flash floods. I have two recommendations for you (of which you can thank me later for): 1) read both books, and 2) read them chronologically. Start with Half Broke Horses (featuring Wall’s grandmother) and finish with The Glass Castle (featuring Wall’s mother as well as herself). Let me know what you think, and I’ll chat with you in the comments below!
On June 12th at Turnstone’s SmallTalks event in Seattle, thinkspace announced that we are launching our 2nd location in Fremont (#thinkspaceSEA). We are so excited to be opening in Fremont, as they say it’s the “center of the universe.” During SmallTalks we offered up a free month of coworking in our Seattle office to the 10th person that retweeted our announcement.
Congratulations Dan Goldgeier, freelance copywriter and author of View from the Cheap Seats! You’ve won one free month of coworking at thinkspace Seattle. Along with an amazing view of the canal you’ll be surrounded by the top startup and entrepreneurial talent in the city. We want to thank you for retweeting us and welcome to the thinkspace community!
I’ve always thought people have multiple selves – meaning your actions and reactions vary based on people and settings. It’s hard to be one personality all the time. For example my “personal self” loves horoscopes. A horoscope or fortune is a slight glimmer of hope of what might come tomorrow, or at least a positive placebo. My “work self” would not admit my guilty-pleasure-like love of horoscopes (but apparently I just did). A horoscope, something that predicts the future, is silly and fairly juvenile. But sometimes life feels scattered and so undefined; sometimes I DO want to know what to do with my life.
I had only lived in Seattle for a month when I started working at thinkspace, a coworking community in Redmond. My horoscope said to write the word “creator” on my business card, and synonyms of that word. Then, turn the card over and write “May 2013,” and wait. Was this a silly gesture? Of course it was silly and nonsensical. But I didn’t just want to know what would happen…I NEEDED to know. The words that I wrote as synonyms on the card were: architect, designer, founder, originator, author, initiator, generator, and inventor. These are words with so much gusto and big meaning, words that aren’t thrown around lightly. These are the words that describe entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are people that do what they want because they believe in what they are doing. Doors will be slammed in your face, phone calls will go un-returned, and rejection is inevitable. So what keeps entrepreneurs creating, inventing, and originating? It’s the hope of knowing that what’s around the corner will be their legacy and their mark on the world.
Last week, I sat down with Dan Vache, who is a long time member of the thinkspace community. Dan works for the United Fresh Produce Association which is a trade organization. Since 1904 they have been representing all parties involved with handling fresh fruits and vegetables – from the grower to the shipper to the distributer. Dan heads up one of two remote office locations, with the headquarters being located in Washington, D.C.
In talking with Dan, I asked him a number of questions about his job at the United Fresh Produce Association.
Q: What is a core value for the United Fresh Produce Association?
A: A core value is protecting consumers, and trying to expand the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables for healthy lifestyles.
Because the United Fresh Produce Association is primarily located in Washington, D.C., they deal with a lot of legislative issues. A major campaign that they are currently working on is to put salad bars in every school cafeteria. They recognize that many children don’t get exposed to fresh fruits and vegetables, and exposing them at an earlier age can help overturn current challenges and patterns with health and lifestyle (diabetes, childhood obesity, etc.). The United Fresh Produce Association is a strong advocate for the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, and believe that a lot of those health challenges go away when produce is consumed (rather than starchy, processed foods).
Dan concentrates on the supply chain. Basically anything to do with fresh produce once its been planted and harvested (read more about that here). Because of this, he has the opportunity to travel quite a bit. This year he has traveled to Peru and all throughout North America.
Q: What are three things you never leave home without?
A: My laptop, my phone, and my running shoes.
In a few weeks, Dan will travel to Brussels to take part with the International Standards Organization as they redevelop standards for certain aspects of the produce industry. For example, the labels on produce have a code on them so they are easily tracked through the system and retailers can ensure they have the correct pricing (read more about that here).
Q: Is it true that the labels on fruits and vegetables are edible?
A: Yes they are. It’s food contact, so it can’t harm anyone. You can eat those, and its biodegradable.
Q: Speaking of things that are edible, do you have an opinion on the “dirty dozen?”
A: There is a lot of misinformation on that. The group that puts that out, probably in their own mind is well-intentioned, but they are very misleading. They tend to overstate some things and leave out some good factual information. And quite honestly, some folks that read that do not do additional research and its detrimental to themselves because they then consume less fruits and vegetables….and from my standpoint that’s not the right approach to take.
Q: So at the end of the day, it’s probably better to just eat your fruits and vegetables?
A: Yea, exactly.
Thank you Dan, it was a pleasure talking with you! I’m off to go blend a nice green smoothie, filled with fresh kale, mango, banana, and carrot juice (thanks for the inspiration!).
This week I re-read #SocialEra by Nilofer Merchant. Reading this book is a rite of passage to work at thinkspace. I was actually given the book before I accepted the job here (probably to make sure I aligned with the community’s core values…which I do). The book outlines everything thinkspace strives to be – a connected community of entrepreneurs that create value for each other – and it was definitely a worthwhile re-read. Fast Company calls it one of the best business books of 2012.
What is the social era all about? Connections. Today, in a post-industrial era, connections are what create value. ”If the industrial era was about building things, the social era is about connecting things, people, and ideas,” she writes. “Networks of connected people with shared interests and goals create ways that can produce returns for any company that serves their needs.”
The book lays to rest the ideas from the industrial era – where organizations were encouraged to be unique and set apart from competition – and raises up community, collaboration, and consumers as co-creators. This book is a tool and resource that all entrepreneurs should consult as well as put into practice. Reading (and re-reading) the book opened my eyes to the continued need for openness – “It’s the difference between holding our ideas in a tight,closed fist or holding our hand, open to what happen next. We might imagine that if we hold an idea tight enough, we’ll end up with a diamond. But when we hold open an idea as if in an open hand, we are unlocking the vault of limitless human capabilities to create new and better ideas that are owned together.”