“Proud” Entrepreneurs’ “Joy Was Palpable”

(p. A13) People of all backgrounds are starting to see how they can participate in our wonderful free-market system. They’re innovating, creating jobs and lifting themselves and others up.

I was fortunate to come to that same realization as a young man. Although I had always aspired to be financially successful, my role models in Nebraska City, Neb., of the 1940s and ’50s were mainly doctors, dentists and attorneys in town. There was nothing to point me toward founding a discount brokerage firm, as I ultimately did with Ameritrade. Luckily, on my father’s advice, I took a job as a credit reporter for Dun & Bradstreet.

It wasn’t a high-paying or respected job, but it meant I spent my days driving from business to business in Nebraska and Iowa, interviewing entrepreneurs about their balance sheets. Those business owners shared proud stories of how they built their companies. Their joy was palpable. Had I not received that education in the field, I might never have become an entrepreneur.

For the full commentary, see:

Joe Ricketts. “In Praise of Today’s Entrepreneurs.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, November 5, 2019): A13.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Nov. 10, 2019, and has the title “Big Business Is Overcharging You $5,000 a Year.”)

Ricketts’s commentary is related to his book:

Ricketts, Joe. The Harder You Work, the Luckier You Get: An Entrepreneur’s Memoir. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2019.

UNO MBA Blog Highlights Diamond’s Openness to Creative Destruction

The blog for the MBA program at UNO’s College of Business ran a nice entry on my Openness to Creative Destruction: Sustaining Innovative Dynamism book.

As of 10/11/19, the URL for the entry was: https://www.unomaha.edu/college-of-business-administration/mba/about-us/mba-blog.php

(My seminars on “Economics of Entrepreneurship” and “Economics of Technology” are electives in the MBA program, the economics masters program, and the undergraduate economics program.)

“Charging Scooters Is a Great Job for Independent-Minded Entrepreneurs”

(p. 1B) Downtown Omaha resident Rob Luhrs spends his early mornings and late nights hunting for scooters.

Luhrs, 41, is a “juicer” of Lime scooters (“Lime juicer” — get it?) who charges scooters and then sets them out again around town. He said he makes about $60 a day, seven days a week, doing the work. During the College World Series, he said, he was making between $80 and $90 a day.

Luhrs also is an instructor of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a part-time real estate broker who works for a grocery delivery service. But he said he hopes to make charging scooters his primary source of income.

(p. 2B) “I want to work when I want to,” he said. “When I want to take a day off, I don’t want anybody complaining about it, and if I work extra hard, I want to get paid more. I can’t just go apply to somewhere and get that job.”

. . .

Luhrs said charging scooters is a great job for “independent-minded entrepreneurs.”

“For me personally, I’m willing to spend time during the day picking up scooters and make it a full-time gig,” he said. “I see other people out there, during the daytime, picking up scooters, so I know that they’re trying to make it a full-time gig, too.”

For the full story, see:

Adam Cole. “Lime ‘Juicer’ Doesn’t Feel Squeezed by Late Hours Charging Scooters.” Omaha World-Herald (Thursday, Jul 4, 2019): 1B-2B.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Jul 3, 2019, and has the title “Unorthodox working hours don’t steer Lime ‘juicer’ away from job charging scooters in Omaha.”)

New York Critic: “I Simply Don’t Care a Damn What Happens in Nebraska”

(p. C14) ‘I simply don’t care a damn what happens in Nebraska,” ranted a New York critic, “no matter who writes about it.”
Or so Willa Cather claimed. In the long leisure of the grave, the alleged scoffer may ponder how it is that a century after its September 1918 publication, Cather’s “My Ántonia,” its every page rooted in Nebraska, remains very much alive and in print–while he is neither.

For the full review, see:
Robert Garnett. “MASTERPIECE; Rooted in America’s Heartland.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018): C14.
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Sept. 14, 2018.)

The book mentioned above, is:
Cather, Willa. My Antonia. New York: Collins Classics, 2019 [1st published 1918].

Uncredentialed Entrepreneur Innovated to Save Babies

(p. 1A) He showed up in Omaha 120 summers ago, another unknown showman hoping to make a name for himself at this city’s biggest-ever event, its world’s fair.

He gave his name as Martin Couney, or sometimes Martin Coney. It wasn’t, at least not yet.
He said he was a doctor, a European doctor, a protégé of the world’s finest doctors. He was none of these things.
And yet in Omaha, Dr. Couney set up shop in a little white building on the east midway, not far from the Wild West Show, the Middle Eastern dancers, the roaming fortune tellers and the Indian Congress starring a Native American chief named Geronimo.
The fair, officially known as the Trans-Mississippi and International (p. 2A) Exposition, showcased all manner of things seen as strange, exotic and otherworldly to the 2 million Nebraskans and visitors paying the 50-cent admission to have their minds blown in the summer of 1898.
Couney thought he had just the thing to blow their minds.

“Infant Incubators with Living Infants” read the sign above the entrance.

“A Wonderful Invention … Live Babies” said another.
. . .
Usually the experts are right. That’s why they are experts,” says Dawn Raffel, author of the “The Strange Case of Dr. Couney,” a new biography seeking to save this once-famed faux doctor from history’s trash bin. “But occasionally you get an outlier like this. Someone who is extraordinarily inventive. Who brings us something incredible.”
What Dr. Couney gave us, through decades of work and tireless promotion, was an understanding that we could save babies that since the beginning of time had died before they crawled. We could save them using a piece of equipment designed by a French engineer who realized that if an egg could be nurtured in an incubator, then so could a newborn.
. . .
Newspapers, including The World-Herald, largely ignored the exhibit, Raffel says. The public didn’t seem particularly bothered that a “doctor” had decided to house anonymous newborns on the fairgrounds and put them on public display.
They also didn’t seem particularly interested, either.
. . .
Raffel estimates that Couney and his doctors and nurses saved between 6,500 and 7,000 premature babies all on their own during decades of midway work. But they saved countless thousands more by raising the profile of premature babies. By raising the hope that they could grow into healthy, happy adults.
. . .
“I find him fascinating because he was such a complicated man,” Raffel says. “He deserves more credit.”

For the full story, see:
Hansen, Matthew. “Tech Costs Force Honda To Let Go of Engineering Legacy.” Omaha World-Herald (Friday, Aug. 3, 2018): 1A-2A.
(Note: ellipses between paragraphs, added; ellipsis internal to sentence, in original.)

The Raffel book on which the passages quoted are partially based, is:
Raffel, Dawn. The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies. New York: Blue Rider Press, 2018.

Boys Town Closes California Sites Due to Intrusive Regulations

(p. 1A) It’s been a century since a young Irish priest named Father Edward Flanagan welcomed homeless boys into a run-down Victorian mansion in downtown Omaha.
But as Boys Town celebrates its centennial, the organization is lessening its focus on the kind of residential care model that made it famous.
The latest wave came in June, as Boys Town announced the shuttering of sites in New York, Texas and California, including one residential care site in Orange County.
. . .
In 2000 under the Rev. Val Peter, then its executive director, the organization had 16 sites — though some were shelters without residential care.
The Rev. Steven Boes, current president and national executive director, insists the Flanagan mission of caring for American families and children remains, despite what he called some tough decisions to close sites.
. . .
(p. 2A) Boys Town decided to shutter its 80-acre residential site in Trabuco Canyon and two family homes in Tustin, California, after years of advocating for regulatory changes in that state. At the time of the June announcement, those homes housed 28 children.
The Trabuco Canyon site was one of 14 Boys Town residential care facilities opened in the 1980s and ’90s as Peter worked to spread the model to larger metro areas around the nation.
Since then, changing state regulations have made it more difficult to implement the Boys Town model in many of those areas, said Bob Pick, executive vice president of youth care.
“We opened those sites 20 or 30 years ago, and it was an exciting time,” Pick said. “But times change, contracts change and we have to serve kids with the highest quality. We just couldn’t do that in some locations.”
When the Trabuco Canyon facility opened, youths stayed for up to two years, Pick said, adding that Boys Town’s own research shows that the minimum stay should be about six months and a yearlong stay is ideal.
Because of contractual rules including mandated length of stays in California, “we couldn’t get kids to stay longer than two or three months,” Pick said. “That’s just not quality care.”
. . .
The changes at Boys Town haven’t come without criticism.
The Rev. Peter worries that the closing of Boys Town sites and focus on research runs afoul of Flanagan’s mission. “I gave my whole life to this — to Flanagan’s dream,” Peter, 83, said. “This is called God’s dream. Times change, but God’s dream doesn’t.”

For the full story, see:
Klecker, Mara. “Renowned care model no longer main focus; Overall trend is toward in-home family consulting, fewer residential sites.” Omaha World-Herald (Sun., Aug. 27, 2017): 1A-2A.
(Note: ellipses added..)

Disney Stories Give Happiness to the Poor

(p. 1B) If the arts community had been blossoming in north Omaha when Adrienne Brown-Norman was growing up there in the 1960s and ’70s, she may never have moved to California and become a senior illustrator for Disney Publishing Worldwide.
. . .
“Of course, though, I would not ever have met Floyd.”
That would be her husband, Floyd Norman, the now-legendary first African-American artist at Walt Disney Studios.
Floyd Norman, 82, began working for Disney in 1956 and was named a Disney Legend in 2007.
. . .
The Normans recently collaborated with legendary songwriter Richard Sherman (“Mary (p. 5B) Poppins”) on a picture book called “A Kiss Goodnight.”
The book tells the story of how the young Walt Disney was enchanted by fireworks and subsequently chose to send all of his Magic Kingdom guests home with a special kiss goodnight of skyrockets bursting overhead.
. . .
Walt Disney later picked Norman to join the team writing the script for “The Jungle Book.” Disney had seen Norman’s gags posted around the office and recognized a talented storyteller.
“I didn’t think I was a writer, but the old man did,” Norman said. “Then I realized that maybe I am good at this.”
Norman named “The Jungle Book” as his favorite project, because he worked alongside Disney.
. . .
“What I learned from the old man was the technique of storytelling and what made a movie work,” Norman said.
“I had an amazing opportunity to learn from the master. If you were in the room with Walt, it was for a reason. There are a lot of people who wanted to be in that room but didn’t get an invitation.”
. . .
One day at the studio the Normans recall pausing to watch the filming of “Saving Mr. Banks,” the story of Disney’s quest to acquire the rights to film “Mary Poppins.” Norman had worked on the movie and was interested in seeing Tom Hanks’ portrayal of his old boss.
“Tom Hanks rushed from his trailer in full costume to meet Floyd, shouting, ‘Where is that famous animator?’ ” Brown-Norman said. “You don’t expect a man like Tom Hanks to come running up. Then Tom wouldn’t let us leave. He wanted to know more about Walt, and if he was getting it right.”
. . .
“What I enjoy is the love of Disney that made so many people happy,” [Floyd Norman] said. “Maybe they were poor. Maybe they were in a bad home, but they tell me Disney stories gave them an escape. They gave them happiness, and that’s what I like.”

For the full story, see:

Kevin Cole. “Legendary Animator Spread Love of Disney.” Omaha World-Herald (Mon., Aug. 7, 2017): 1B & 5B.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed name, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the title “During Native Omaha Days, Disney’s Floyd Norman and Adrienne Brown-Norman reflect on careers.”)

The book mentioned above, co-authored by Sherman (and illustrated by the Normans), is:
Sherman, Richard, and Brittany Rubiano. A Kiss Goodnight. Glendale, CA: Disney Editions, 2017.