What’s The Big Idea?

16 08 2015

I’ve recently been watching the television show “Shark Tank”. If you aren’t familiar, the show introduces entrepreneur contestants to several high-profile investors, hoping they will back their product or business.

The show is a very entertaining and compact look at how deals can get done given the right ideas and circumstances. I especially like it because of the entrepreneur’s commitment and enthusiasm for the products, and their absolute belief that it is a worthy investment.

Some of the strangest ideas in history became huge winners… like Snuggies, or the Singing Fish, or the Pet Rock. I remember years ago thinking that someone, somewhere came up with the idea for the cocktail umbrella, and probably reaped millions for the invention. Why can’t I come up with something? Anything?

During quiet moments lying in bed or on long drives, we’ve all fantasized about having that “big” idea… an invention or product that everyone wants and needs. And , of course, will make a boatload of money! For many reasons, some ideas end up being bigger than others.

1SEn6BgcThe other day I had a short conversation with Bruce Wilson. He and his wife Erin are founders of If I Need Help, a non-profit organization that provides products and services that help reunite loved ones with those who might become lost or disoriented. These are people with autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s – anyone who might have problems communicating that they are lost, or where they live. If I Need Help provides a variety of products with a QR Code that contains contact information for the person’s caregiver.

qr-code-id-keychainThe company I work for has been providing the technology they use to make the various products – name tags, patches, t-shirts, key chains, etc.  I remember when Erin first contacted us a couple of years ago, and explained the idea. Their 13-year-old son Jay has moderate to severe Autism, with limited language ability. He had gotten lost in the past, so they came up with the idea out of concern and love for him. Their “system” provided a measure of security for him and greater peace of mind for them.

QR-code-id-shoeBruce and I were talking about the business relationship, how it all started and what it has become. He said something that resonated with me… “It was just a small idea because we wanted to help our son.” But it was a tremendous idea, and one that needs to be shared to help people in similar situations. There have been so many success stories, about people who have wandered and been quickly found.

It seems that I see an item in my social and news feeds every day about a challenged person who is lost or missing. I always think about Bruce and Erin, and I wonder if the products from If I Need Help could have assisted in finding these people.

Success can be measured in many ways. I fervently hope that If I Need Help becomes a hugely successful organization, and the good stories come by the thousands.  But I doubt that the Wilsons will be millionaires, and I’m sure they are not concerned.

But when you measure the success of an idea by how much you’ve helped people, Bruce and Erin are the richest people I know.

For more information about Bruce and Erin Wilson and If I Need Help, please go to their website – IfINeedHelp.org. Read their story, make a donation, and/or spread the word!


Lost Love – A Survivor’s Story

8 08 2015

“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.” ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

tumblr_nkm8od0w621rvn4sfo1_500I missed you. All this week I wanted to text, or send a photo. I just wanted to have a talk… you weren’t there. It is a terrible void felt… not having your mobile phone.

Yep… it just died. It worked fine all day Saturday and Sunday morning, and then it wouldn’t charge. What the hell!

Someone reminded me that phones are made to die, like a car devaluing when you drive it off the lot. I thought about that comparison… and we do connect some of the same terms to our phones like upgrades, energy conservation, bigger, better, more powerful and efficient!

People always used to wonder what it was about men and their cars. You could always tell a little bit about someone’s personality by the car they drive. Now it’s the type and way they use cell phones that have become part of a person’s identity. I’m an iPhone guy, and have had debates over the years about the pros and cons of the different platforms with Android and/or Blackberry users. Passions run high.

dead_iphoneBut I don’t care about these other people. I was left abandoned… alone for four whole days!! This personal hell contained endless chunks of time that I was detached from the world. Whether it was driving in my car, or walking down the street… minutes and minutes of zero communication! Or those other mad moments when I didn’t have access to information like maps, or game scores, or a clock… what the hell time is it????

What if I needed to take a photo or video? Possible precious moments missed… never to be repeated and shared with a breathlessly waiting world. And business… Everything ceased! It was a nightmare.

I went to a concert on Thursday night and I was unable to easily find my friends. I did, but it wasn’t easy. Elvis Costello played a song during his set, and I had no way to immediately determine which album it was on. I did, much later. And I found my way home without my Waze app.

But I was roughing it!!

Of course, these laments are made tongue firmly in cheek… nothing of consequence was missed. Two customers left me voicemails that were handled the following day. Certainly no one died or was injured. In reality being without a phone was a bit inconvenient, and also a bit liberating.

This geek does have an iPad to pick up some of the slack. But I did find myself absentmindedly reaching for that invisible phone a few times. And once or twice I picked up the dead phone and pushed some buttons… #resurrection?

IMG_3453After four gruesome days I got a nifty, brand spanking new iPhone 6, replacing my rotary-like iPhone 5. How did I survive so long with such outdated technology?  The nightmare was over. I was connected once again after a quick setup, restore from backup, and a new lock screen photo – Stay Classy!

It is delightful, sleek and sexy, just like me… opening that box felt like Christmas Day! And it’s way better than a Galaxy S-whatever, I am completely positive… how dare you say otherwise!

Learned lesson? Understanding suffering helps one appreciate the gifts you have, so I am thankful to those who helped me through this rough patch.

I’m back, world… if you’ll have me.