Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2015

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Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2015 Lisa Wain’s Reflection Journal What we’ve been preparing for! After nine weeks of preparing her ENT311 students, and many hours organising this major Sunshine Coast Event, Magareitha Scheepers welcomed her students and  guests to Startup … Continue reading

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The Grapes of Wrath vs Atlas Shrugged

the grapes of wrath vs atlas shruggedAfter reading the The Grapes of Wrath I went on to to mark it as read and stumbled upon a review that compared it with Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged“.  Having read both books myself I engaged in the conversation to share my views, which were contrary to the reviewers.  The discussion turned out an interesting debate so I decided to capture it here in my blog.  You can click here to the thread on Good Reads if you wanted to see the whole thing, but I have copied the last paragraph of Jason’s review and the discussion that followed below:

Jason wrote:

…….Which leads me to wonder… what would Ayn Rand think of all this? After all, aren’t labor unions and economic regulation precisely what she argues against? By that account, if Atlas Shrugged is the supposed Bible of right-wing thinkers, then I’d have to say that The Grapes of Wrath might just be its antithesis. But the real difference, as far as I can tell, is that while Atlas Shrugged represents a crazy woman’s vision of a whack job world that could never actually exist, John Steinbeck tells it like it is, and how it was, for so many hard working Americans who were taken advantage of under a system that did nothing to protect them. And what’s even more remarkable is that Steinbeck’s characters (whom, by the way, Rand would refer to as “moochers”—just thought we should be clear on that) make Dagny Taggart and Henry Reardon look like a couple of pussies. What is it Ma Joad says? That if you’re in trouble or hurt or need, to “go to poor people—for they’re the only ones that’ll help.”

This is a novel about the working poor, and it should serve to remind us what can go horribly wrong in an unregulated economy.

And so it began:

by Lisa

Lisa WainI have just finished The Grapes of Wrath and loved it. I have also read Atlas Shrugged, and also thought about the comparison of the flip side. I loved Atlas Shrugged as well and my interpretation is a little different to yours. I think Dagny Taggert and Henry Reardon would have given the Joad’s a good job for a fair days pay and I would never have called the Joad’s Moochers…..quiet the opposite in fact…way too proud to take money without first working for it.

JasonI might have been a little overreaching there. I agree the Joads are not moochers at all. It’s just that in their world, they suffer in a direct way from a lack of labor laws and inadequate regulation. I think if the Joads had their way, they’d be the first in line to vote for regulation to limit the power of the employer (which was clearly being abused), and it’s in this way that I mean they’d be considered moochers by Rand’s definition.

Lisa WainI agree Jason. I am sure the Joads would have voted for labor laws that benefit both the employee and the employer. Note the problems the smaller farmers were having trying to get their crops picked and still make a profit (which equals the farmers wages)with the still bigger guys dictating commodity prices. This problem is still alive today! The world needs business/land owners (capitalists as they are commonly known) and workers….there is no right or wrong…..greed is the problem, and not all capitalists are greedy, but how do you regulate greed? Fortunately life is not as black and white as it sometimes seems. 🙂

JasonLisa wrote: “…but how do you regulate greed?”

Exactly. I think this is the key point. I see what you’re saying about how the small landowners would also benefit from anti-collusion and anti-trust laws, but Rand’s bottom line is that there should be no regulation whatsoever (as any form of it is a figurative gun to the head). So you can see that in this case, obviously, some form of regulation is the only way to counter the greed.

I know the world isn’t back and white. But this is how Rand depicts her world in order to make her point (which is actually kind of extremist), and so I’m just using this novel as a counterargument. I think it works well because it shows the other side of the coin: the honest laborers who can never make it in this world because they can’t ever get a fair shake. Because I think that’s really what the outcome of Rand’s world would be.

Lisa Wain“Rand’s bottom line is that there should be no regulation whatsoever”

I would love to think that the world could function without regulation. The regulators didn’t help the Joad’s out too much, in fact they were the largest part of the problem. Increasingly it is being proven that the governments of the world cannot be trusted to make intelligent decisions and I believe we should all be striving as individuals to regulate our own lives and be rid of any sort of dependency on government.

I also don’t believe that all honest laborers have the ability (or the want) to “make it” in the business world. Horses for courses so to speak. I know a lot of people who are very happy to go to work each day, collect their pay at the end of the week, enjoy paid holiday and sick leave and have every weekend off. Employers/Business owners don’t always get such luxuries, and when they do it is usually after many years of blood, sweat and tears not to mention lower pay then their employees so they can pay mortgages and the added stress of a number of people depending on them to feed their families.

Business owners are a minority group, considering the number of employees, so it is easy for the “regulators” to swing the benefits toward the employees in a lot of cases. We all have rights, and that includes business owners, who are generally at work well before anyone else turns up and are still there when everyone else has long gone home. They generally pay a lot more taxes and (in Australia) act as collection agencies for the government as well.

I think if the honest laborers in this (western) world had the courage to take the risk and give it a go, they would soon find out that being the owner of the business is not all as glamorous as it looks from the other side of the coin, and they just might find out that they too can make it in this world if they were willing to put in the 10,15,20 years it takes to build a successful business that everyone else can be jealous of.

Again, as you highlighted, it is when success turns into greed that becomes the problem, but I believe that social responsibility is a growing trend with the big corporations, as it certainly has always been at the small to medium end of the scale.

Thanks for the discussion. As you can probably tell, I am a bit of an Ayn Rand fan. There are not too many people out there willing to argue for the other side.

P.S The real solution would be if we all owned a few acres and grew our own meat and vegetables to feed our families, the only work you needed to do would be on your own property and whatever was needed to stay alive and healthy, back to the way the Joad’s lived before being pushed off their farm. Alas, I think you would still find that some landowners would thrive while others failed and starved.

JasonOh, yes, I can tell you are a fan. 🙂 And I appreciate the discussion as well. It’s just that I don’t think we will ever see eye-to-eye on this particular point:

“Increasingly it is being proven that the governments of the world cannot be trusted to make intelligent decisions and I believe we should all be striving as individuals to regulate our own lives and be rid of any sort of dependency on government.”

I always fail to understand how having no regulation is inherently better than fixing broken regulation or some form thereof. To me, the response to “this solution isn’t working” should never be “so let’s get rid of the solution altogether.” That first sentence of yours is the scariest because I feel it’s too idealistic. I’d love to think a lot of things would/should/could happen, but it doesn’t mean that they will just by wanting it to. And I think the point of TGOW is that there were no regulators, so I don’t know what you mean about their being a part of the problem. To me it was thelack of regulation that led to collusion and lower wages, unemployment, loss of business, etc. Not the other way around.

Also, I think the idea that corporations can and should govern themselves (you allude to social responsibility being a growing trend) is frightening, too. I think it puts too much power and freedom at the fingertips of those most susceptible to the allure of greed. It’s like dangling a cupcake in front of a fat kid and trusting him not to grab it when you aren’t looking.

by Lisa
Lisa WainI just had a great rebuttal typed out…with so many good points….but there was an error when I went to post it….DARN IT! I should have copied it before posting 😦

And so that was the end of that.  It made for an interesting debate, and I still totally disagree with Jason’s point of view, but at the end of the day it is exactly these differences that make us unique and keeps life interesting.

Until next time 🙂

Posted in Book Review, SME | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Business School of Life Management


I was thinking…..if I there were a “Business School of Life Management”….what would be in the Curriculum??

I came up with 6 major management disciplines that could probably cover it.

  1. Knowledge Management
  2. Learning Management
  3. Money Management
  4. Self Management
  5. Relationship Management
  6. Resource Management

Why these 6 areas?  because…..

You KNOW something! and because of that Knowledge Management is a key to successful Life Management.

We are LEARNING…….from conception to the grave, it’s a fact of life!  Learning Management will definitely help, and with Knowledge Management under control, what’s not to learn?!

Without MONEY, the things you get to do in life are pretty limited, and no matter how hard you might try, the fact is we are at the mercy of it… you know what …. Money Management is important!

If we can’t manage OURSELVES we’re not going to be very effective managing anything else… Self Management is essential.

We are people…..and without OTHER PEOPLE…..well there’s just not much point.  So great Relationship Management skills will definitely go a long way.

We live on, in and because of RESOURCES….be it natural resources like land, water, minerals & protein through to tools and manpower to help you get through life sustainably…….Resource Management is critical!

hmmmmmm, now what would the lessons look like…….

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where will we be in 100 years?

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from Wikipedia

This post was inspired by, a website that invites you to join them to help us dream big about the next 100 years.

Here’s how I dream it.

After coming close to loosing nearly everything almost 100 years ago, including our beautiful earth, the masses began to wake up to our true purpose here on earth and began to work toward a sustainable, fair and just way of living.

People realised that Money was the biggest cause of most of the destruction and inequality in the world and stopped worshipping it as they once did.  Instead they began to worship themselves, their health, their families and their communities.

Capitalism morphed into a new Social Economic System where co-opetition between businesses is now standard and community and economic development are one in the same.  Business structure is now such that all businesses are social enterprises with a blend of private stakeholder and community investment, and returns are equitable and appropriate.  Wealth is shared by all who wish to engage in the system and monopolisation is a thing of the past.

Local food systems and hubs  replace our supermarkets and primary production is held in the highest regard…after all, they do feed the world.  Healthy eating, excercise.  Free energy from, sun, water, wind … meaning an end to the resource sector … resulting in mass unemployment and a return to community and a simpler way of life.  Spending time with loved ones becomes the new workforce as families come together at first for survival and then … because its just a better way of doing business.

Various methods of trade become available as the dollar increasinging becomes worthless against quality of life.  Barter and common-wealth among families and communities is the new economy, and thriving communities create thriving nations.

Self actualisation is the main objective where our climb to the top of the pyramid resembles the maslows hiearachy rather than one of global domination.  The exposure of global domination agendas taught people how to succeed in there own journey to self actualisation.

The internet, social media and technology gave access to all the information available in the world and education became a way of living rather than a curriculum of dictation.  Schools become obsolete and learning, working and living became one and the same as we all become teachers and we all remain learners.

Time management is no longer an issue and people giggle at the thought that it was ever a problem!

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Spinning our Wheels

I just watched this tube video “Joe Rogan The Meaning of Life…..” which had been shared on facebook through my university course group for Entrepreneurship and the following is my response to the question posted with the link which was “…as learning entrepreneurs, how many of you agree to this video’s content?”

I agree 100%.  Technology has evolved rapidly but as humans we have basically stayed the same. I remember when I read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (published 1957) a couple of years ago and thinking how humans really haven’t changed much over the past 60 odd years and then thinking it again after reading The Grapes of Wrath (published 1939).

Technology and the world we live in has changed so much you would think it were a different planet almost, but human behaviour and relationships are still basically very much the same. It really does go to show how very strong the resistance to CHANGE is.

I do believe however that the world is at a turning point as we speak…which is why we can have these conversations and Joe Rogan can use technology to express his views. I can absolutely relate to the “dad” aspect….though I have seen my dad laugh many times, I can’t remember the last time I experienced it as true “happiness” (for want of a better word).

I believe MONEY is a huge factor in slowing down evolution. We have been stuck now for literally thousands of years chasing the elusive dollar, our whole lives are based around it….from the second we are born into a costly health system (or not) through to an education system that takes between 12 and 20 years to prepare us for the workforce and then on to start the cycle again ourselves when we give birth to our own children where we begin to drum it in to our children’s heads that there whole purpose for being born is to make learn, go to work, earn a living and then die.  That’s why we are spinning! Imagine a world without money…go on, think about it for 5 minutes…….it is a really hard thing to imagine.

Invent something that fixes that problem……now that would be a truly inspirational INNOVATION that would change the world!!

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Entrepreneurship… could call it an illness!

If someone had told me that for the first couple of years of making it in the world of business, that I would feel like what I’d be making wasn’t so good, you know, not that great.  It has the potential to be to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good and that what I’m making will kind of be a disappointment to me.  And what if someone had told me that I would likely want to give up and quit?

Would I have still have started down the road of business and entrepreneurship?


I don’t know; call it an illness I guess, because I can’t seem to stop now!?

Here’s an example

After marrying, giving birth to two children, divorcing, moving interstate, having another child, getting married again and going into partnership with my husband (business partner number 1) on the farm, Jerakala, I decided I needed a little more flexibility in my life and gave up being a full time employee and went into business for myself!   Hell, everyone knows it’s much better to be the owner of the business than the employee!

So I started my first business (off farm) – Burnett Country Bookkeeping (BCB).  Hey I had my first client, he was paying a couple more dollars an hour than my previous employer and I could work to my own schedule, why wouldn’t I leave a stable salaried position, even if they are offering a pay rise!  Do they think I’m stupid?  I’m 30, surely I should know what I’m doing by now!  And who cares if I left school in year 10 and had no Accounting or business management qualifications?  You don’t need them!

Anyhow, that went ok … eventually, after about 7 years of wondering why the hell I ever made that decision, going into partnership, dissolving the partnership, almost going through a merger, then pulling out in the last hour, until finally, on my own, the money was great and the work was flowing in … ahhh, this is why I did it!.  And then … Slowly I started to realise … that I’m a bit bored with it.  It’s like, I started thinking to myself, do I reeeeally want to do bookkeeping for the rest of my life?

Well it really didn’t take too long to answer that question … so I started Eternal Wave.  Now that one went pretty well, pretty quickly (it’s called momentum) and I began managing projects.  Small ones at first, running training sessions and business mentoring programs and then moved on to larger projects for state and federal government funded programs.  This was great, exposed me to great networks, diverse industries and a world of opportunity.

That world of opportunity nurtured and eventually gave birth to an amazing business idea … cre8you.  Not that I was giving up on BCB or Eternal Wave … no … I could do it all!  I had several employees throughout the now 9 years of being in business, and that was, well … that was interesting.  Not sure I ever did master the skill of HR management (not yet anyway).  Sooo here I was, after a bit of shuffling with potential business partners I finally started my first Pty Ltd company with business partner number 2 (the lovely Jakki Goodall) and a very exciting business plan to put together.  It was going to be GREAT!!  Then cre8you Pty Ltd landed a massive project with the Federal Government to roll out the Bush Business Online Program, very little to do with our core business, 300 business people over 12 months across 5 regions, 2 day social media workshops.  This should be a breeze!  NOT!  But hey, it was a great experience, learnt a hell of a lot, taught a hell of a lot and met some fantastic people, though the reporting really did suck and the diversion from the original business plan is still paying its toll!

Soooo … that was quite a bit more challenging than ever anticipated, and a lot more time than we thought at first and with the farm (thank god for Jasen Wain), BCB and Eternal Wave still on the go I realised something had to change.  It didn’t take long to figure it out and so come in business number 5 and business partner number 3.  During my time with BCB I had worked closely with Christine Smith.  A major client’s administrator and bookkeeper, I thought she would make a great business partner to poach (and I wasn’t wrong!), and hold on, I have a niece who is a bit of a go getter, great personality, fantastic skills in admin and accounts, there’s business partner number 4.  And you know … companies are easy to set up, so goodbye BCB after 10 good years and to take over, welcome to the business family … Office Rulz Pty Ltd.

And all this time, with Jasen managing the local shire’s waste removal and working on the farm on his days off, we soon found ourselves with over 22,000 acres of land, 500 head of cattle, numerous sheep, horses, chickens, dogs, pigs and a fish and lots of gardens and horticultural activities to look after.

And you know, after raising 3 gorgeous (and a little frustrating at times) children whom I love with all my heart to full adulthood, I started thinking about the fact that I had always wanted to go University, and that maybe those business qualifications that I didn’t have would actually be useful, and hell, I was 40, temporarily renting on the Sunshine Coast, 300km from my home and my husband (a lot of driving), and the University of the Sunshine Coast was literally just around the corner, I would be mad not to take the opportunity to enrol at least.  Never know you might get in!?

In the meantime the cre8you government contract finished, income dried up, university pending and a great opportunity knocks at the door.  Our home town [North Burnett] Regional Council is looking for someone in the field of economic development …… and what a great bunch of people we now have in the North Burnett Region Futures Team, and what a perfect role for me and part time so I can fit everything else in … I love it!  Fingers crossed we can extend the service to the 2012/2013 year!

And so, here I am, finished my first year of University and having semester break before

car 8 - the great endeavour rally

Us on the great endeavour rally in car 8 – Learning as we go!

starting my 2nd year.  Thank god for semester break!   Because I have this present that I got  for Jasen for his 40th last year, it’s something we had both said we wanted to do one day, so what better time than his 40th to register him into the Great Endeavour Rally.  It would be a great experience!  One that we could spend quality time together, have lots of fun and work for something that was greater than ourselves…The Endeavour Foundation.

Well here it is, 2 weeks before the Rally starting line, and only 3 days into our fundraising and organisation phase.   Admittedly Jasen had gotten the car to the first mechanic 4 weeks earlier, and how did we know they weren’t going to do any work on it for 4 weeks!

And wasn’t that house removal, relocation and renovation on the next door property supposed to be well and truly finished by now!  Yes it does look great, and I love the kitchen and bathroom…and the VIEW is to die for.  And you know, I am really looking forward to opening our Bed & Breakfast, might go and stay there myself now and then, for a day off, if it ever gets finished.  And pleeeeease don’t talk to me about the tenant in the rental house moving out, I really don’t want to think about it.

Our volunteer British backpackers working on the farm toward their 2nd year visa that have been living with us for the past month will be fine to look after the farm for 10 days while we are on the rally.  Anyhow, our 16 year old son will be here, they’ll manage!  I know the ATO is chasing me, the Accountant is chasing me, the lawyer is chasing me and the banks are too now, not to mention the piles of work I have on my office desk, but to hell with it!  It will all come together one day, it gets easier as you go along (doesn’t it?), you can only do what you can do……The other dozen business ideas and plans bubbling in the background are going to have to wait too!  For now we have a Rally to organise!

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Crazy Busy!

Crazy Busy - Woman sitting on the toilet with her laptop computer, still workingIt seems these days every time someone asks me “How are you?” my answer is always “BUSY“.  For example taking your laptop into the loo with you is a sure sign you are either crazy or just simply busy!

To add salt to the wound, the brain, even in it’s busy state, keeps churning and suddenly it dawned on me…….Considering everything I have going on in my life in this particular time/space continuum, the fact is I am actually going to be busy for a long time yet and stating the fact over and over is not helping in any way….so I had better get over it and get on with it!

I mentioned this “busy” thought to one of my dear friends and business partners, Jakki, and (as it inevitably always does when we chat) we went on to analyse the issue at hand. (Believe me when I say there is NOTHING we cannot analyse!) Anyhoo! Once we had gone around the globe and solved the problems of the world in an hour and a half, the agreement was to find a new word for BUSY! Brilliant idea Jakki!

First, let’s look at what ‘busy‘ could possibly mean to some people.   You could be “busy” keeping up with the latest soaps on TV or the real life ones on facebook, partying with mates on weekends, meeting for coffee and catching up with the the latest goss, engaging in idle chatter to pass the time,  or holidaying in some tropical paradise……and it’s possible you could be busy doing just one of these things, let alone all of them at once!

Not that there is anything wrong with spending your time on any of these things, in fact I am a little jealous if you are, but when we really looked at what it meant when I said I was “busy” it uncovered that, in fact, I am actually spending a truck load of time THINKING, ANALYSING, COMMUNICATING, WORKING, ACHIEVING, GROWING, LEARNING, TEACHING and in turn BUILDING a sustainable future to the best of my ability in harmony with those around me.  After realising this, the word BUSY just didn’t cut it anymore!

I haven’t spent too much time hunting for THE new word, since there is lot’s to do and so little time, but this morning when Joe Millward skyped me and told me that he had been “crazy busy” (a term I would have used myself prior to it’s analysis) I knew I had to take action! So a quick google of synonyms of the word “BUSY” lead me to it’s temporary replacement (until someone comes up with a better one), so here it is:

BUSTLING:- full of energetic and noisy activity! (as opposed to Hustling, which briefly caught my eye but has a slight sinister flavour)

I love that BUSTLING stands for energetic and noisy activity, coz if you knew our lot, you would definately agree with that definition but the word “bustling” lacks in it’s capacity to portray an image of achieving, growing, learning and building, so there has to be a better word out there, I would be grateful for any suggestions you may wish to offer….but until then…

….i really must BUSTLE!

Posted in Challenge, Information Management, SME | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

SME’s Information Overload

I was checking out discussions in my LinkedIn Economic Development Australia Group and came across a few questions from Greg Ratsch asking:

What are the emerging technologies SMEs most need to be aware of and why? How are “smart SMEs” positioning themselves to take advantage of these technological trends? What are the major technological challenges faced by SMEs in such a rapidly evolving environment?

My response led me to my first blog (finally!).

cre8you bush business online kochie promoDuring 2010 and 2011 one of my companies, cre8you, delivered the Bush Business Online Program, funded by Ausindustry as part of their Small Business Online Program. We trained over 300 small businesses over a 12 month period in new technology, social media and marketing strategies. Our 2 day workshops covered the basics of facebook, twitter, Google Maps and Gmail. We also offered additional workshops covering LinkedIn, wordpress, skype and iStockPhoto to name a few.

We had a lot of trouble getting bums on seats in the beginning and spent a lot of time and effort on traditional media and walking the CBD streets. We ran this training in small rural and regional towns right through the middle of the 2011 QLD floods, so our target of 300 was not an easy one.  Our own marketing highlight, however, was to have tweeted and sms’d ourselves to a successful plug on Kochies Distaster Recovery Live Events that were streamed live to cinemas across QLD and Victoria.

On completion of the 2 day workshops our SME’s were overwhelmingly excited about the new opportunities and tools they had been exposed to and rushed out to tell their friends and colleagues how valuable these workshops were and as a result momentum took hold and we were quickly filling our seats to capacity…..and then the funding ran out….but that’s another blog!

Throughout our BBO project, I did learn a thing or two (or 10!) and can answer Greg’s questions from my experience.

What are the emerging technologies SMEs most need to be aware of and why? 

Although social media is the big buzz, and it is important for businesses to understand it so they can make an informed decision before they embraced or rejected it, I believe the two most important technologies SME’s most need to be aware of is cloud computing and email. Cloud computing because it is the ONLY way to ensure your information is backed up, safe and accessible, everywhere, anytime. And email because MOST small businesses have very little idea how to use their email client effectively, i.e. how to send attachments, photos, filtering, tagging, filing, retrieving etc and MOST of them are still on PC based (microsoft outlook) style email, making email less accessible and in danger of being lst should a flood take your computer swimming down the river.

How are “smart SMEs” positioning themselves to take advantage of these technological trends?

Smart SME’s are profiling themselves online. They are using the online space to show off who they are and what they can do on platforms such as LinkedIn, facebook, ICN Gateway and their own websites to name a few. Smart SME’s engage online with customers and communicate with suppliers and stakeholders quickly and efficiently via tools such as email, skype and gotomeeting and file sharing using clouds such as dropbox or google doc’s. All of this saves time, money and travel, not to mention the environment.

What are the major technological challenges faced by SMEs in such a rapidly evolving

I believe the biggest challenge for SME’s is information and knowledge management as a whole. There are a LOT of SME’s who are still struggling with the computer age let alone the information age that has pursued it and I believe it is an inate fear of information overload that is stopping them from wanting to engage.

Effective information and knowledge management equals effective time management…being able to retrieve information quickly, utilising existing information and filtering incoming information between useful and not useful is a skill that any SME could benefit from.

Posted in Information Management, SME, Social Media, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments