Category Archives: Chicago Startup

DON’T GO BELLY UP

by Loop Lonagan

Sleep never comes easy when you’re building the next great tech giant from scratch.  Every idle moment gets overwhelmed with a flood of notions, fears, and phone calls.  You know what I’m talking about.  Those extra hours you squeeze out every day and all that risk you carry on your back are killers.  Keep pushing and something’s gotta give—brain, body, business—one of them goes belly up for sure.  What’s that I hear?  That won’t happen, you say?  Believe me, whenever you tough it out too long, your personality gets so severe that nobody can stand working with you.  From time to time, a CEO has to refresh, rejuvenate, reboot.  You know it and I know it, so listen up.

PERSONAL NOTE FROM LOOP LONAGAN:  Yeah it’s me, all right.  Don’t sound like it though, does it? The new guy, Shakes, worked it over real good, after I dictated the thing.  Gotta make dat guy my reglar editor!

NOTE FROM WILLIAM SHAKES:  “You speak an infinite deal of nothing, but for my own part, it was Greek to me.” (Translation: No problemo.)

So how do you decompress?  Ditch the cell phone for three days.  Escape that smelly city!  Do something outrageous in God’s Creation!  For me, that’s fly-fishing the great annual salmon run.  Ever catch a 40-pound salmon on a fly rod?  It’ll knock the stuffing out of your stress level real fast.  It’s a thrill you won’t forget—ever.

Jim Kren and Joe Perogi gape at the river

This is a hundred percent good.  Think of it—strategy sessions, mapping out your attack—the adventure of wading a wild stream in the dark in hunt of your prey—the tactical skill of delicately casting a fly made by your own hands—the adrenalin rush of a monster king salmon striking your line—the physical strain of fighting a powerful fish for half an hour in the heavy current, line in hand—the catharsis and lasting satisfaction after a long battle. Whoa!  As my football hero, Steve McMichael says, “That’s the juice, baby!”

The legendary Pere Marquette River

Maybe you’ve heard about great fishing like that in Alaska and always wanted to go—but you can’t spare the time right now.  Hey—who can?  Well, lemme ask you:  Can you invest a weekend?  I’ve found a place with rugged beauty and lots and lots of huge king salmon that’s an easy drive from Chicago.  Leave on Friday, back on Sunday.  That’s right—your first excuse doesn’t hold any water.

But maybe you don’t know how to fish with a fly rod.  Hey, you’re a talented entrepreneur, right?  Given a little gumption, you can do anything.  Well relax—at this place, somebody’ll teach you, and believe me, you’ll learn.  So this second excuse won’t pass muster either.

Kren can’t tie a knot

But maybe you don’t own the right gear.  Well, there are two fly shops in town, so that excuse falls flat too.  But, but…  At some point, you gotta stop making silly excuses.  Either find a way to let off some steam or drag your fledgling venture into a ditch out of sheer personal exhaustion.  That’s not what you want, so here’s the place to go:

Outrageously intense

Every September, thousands of salmon swim upstream to spawn in the rivers feeding the Great Lakes.  They show up, nice and prompt, as if they scheduled an appointment—like they carefully set a loud alarm on their smart phone calendars so they wouldn’t stand you up.  The greatest of these waterways is Michigan’s wild, beautiful, and legendary Pere Marquette River in the Manistee Forest.  Fly fishing only. Catch and release.  So guess why there’s so many fish.

Get your butt out to Bueter’s Salmon Camp near Baldwin Michigan—an easy drive from Chicago.  It’s a famous annual event that draws like-minded anglers, all itching to learn new skills and teach the ones they know, and it’s really informal.  Pitch your tent.  Sit around the campfire.  Eat barbeque.  Drink bourbon.  Tell lies.  Soak in the camaraderie of other eager and intense fishermen.  The motto of camp is, “This is too much fun to keep to ourselves.”  Everybody has a good time.

Happy CEOs

I drove up with our magazine staff and I’m fishing with Jim Kren and Joe Perogi (His real name’s J. P. Pierogiczikowski but nobody can pronounce it.)  For two nights, we make our assault on the river, led by renowned fly fisherman, John Bueter.  He deploys his troops along the stream, each casting to pods of active salmon. This year, the kings average 20 pounds and we hear reports of monsters over forty caught offshore. I’m expecting great things and great things happen.

Fish keep their appointment

This is my first night and I’m casting to an active group of fish holding in an area rimmed by fallen trees.  A big one takes my fly and the fight is on.  This one’s huge and strong and tests the limits of my tackle.  I gotta follow where he goes until he finally tires out, or else he’ll peel all the line off my reel.  It happens.

Pump that rod

Perogi sees all the splashing and commotion and wades over to help.  He tries to net my salmon, but it does a 180, swims between my legs, and snaps my fly rod—like one of those close encounters you hear about sometimes.  Hey, no problem—a fly rod’s just a tool—I got another.  But this bad boy is still hooked, so I fight him hand-over-hand till one of us gives way.  It’s either him or me.

Now he’s in the net and we’re dumbstruck by the size of him.  I can’t even circle his tail with both my hands—this one’s huge—way bigger than I’ve ever seen.  I haul him toward shore to clean off any extra hooks when, wham, he breaks through the net.  So there’s no picture of this trophy, but at least I got a witness who says, “Yeah, it really happened,” and “No, you’re not crazy.”  There’s plenty of time left to fish for more.  And I do.

A close encounter

After a couple nights of this, I’m tired, happy, and satisfied.  It’s back to business with a new level of energy and clearheaded judgement.  Join me at Camp this year!

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When & Where

Salmon Camp runs September 27-29.  Show up Friday afternoon, go home Sunday afternoon.  Come a day early if you want—there’s always room for another happy camper.  Call or email your Master of Salmon Mayhem, John Bueter, so he makes enough barbeque.

Mobile 248-345-1402
Land line 231-745-3070

j.bueter@sbcglobal.net

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Get your butt down to this address. 

3360 South M37
Baldwin, MI 49304

(Behind Cloud 9 Resort)
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Cost is $135.  That’s right—tent site, showers, toilets, a barbeque dinner, a lumberjack breakfast.  All for a hundred thirty five bucks!  Save your money for fishing gear.

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Equipment

Don’t own the gear yet?  No time to shop?  Spend a couple hours at Baldwin Bait & Tackle (BBT) or Orvis after you get to camp.  They’re right in Baldwin.  Show them this list and put yourself in their hands:

  • Michigan all-species 3-day fishing license (you can print it online)
  • Big Dog Fly Rod (8-9-10 wt) a spare is not unwise
  • Quality Fly Reel with super-smooth drag
  • Sink-Tip Fly line (6-12 feet of anything from T6 to T11)
  • 12 to 20 pound tippet
  • Lots and lots of flies (Max hook size 4, single point.)
  • Waders
  • Nippers, Pliers (Hemostats are worthless here)
  • Flashlight and Headlight – Important!
  • Rain Gear
  • Tent, Sleeping bag
  • Don’t Forget yer Bubba

More on this topic

 ALIEN ABDUCTS FISH, THROWS FISHERMAN BACK

 CAN’T KEEP A SECRET

TOO MUCH FUN

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..Copyright © 2019 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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THIS AIN’T CHICAGO

by Mark T Wayne

For a week I have endured close association with that foul animal, Loop Lonagan.  The more I learn about the man, the more I like my dog.  Now, Old Man Ludditis wants a rundown on our trip to Chicago’s hottest startup, so we’re both here at his bar, drinking his liquor.

The Lonagan creature slobbers with enthusiasm to tell the story.  “Dis place’s way up dare,” he says in his ungrammatical vernacular as he slides across the first photograph from the trip.  Yes, this place is way up there—that much is true.  It’s northern Manitoba, the 55th parallel, where we enjoy cool weather in the summer, and it never gets entirely dark.

But the creature’s mouth is running on.  “No roads!  Just trees ‘n’ lakes fer hunerds o’ miles.”  

I agree with that statement.

“It’s the only lodge on a huge lake.”

 Also true.   

“And you can dip a cup over the side o’ the boat ‘n’ drink da water!”

Right again.  Strange.  Lonagan may break a record for being upright tonight.  Maybe.

“Pike ‘n’ walleye so thick you can walk on their backs.  Six of ‘em jumped right in the boat and almost sunk it. Anudder one took a flying leaped and bit my rod in half on da way by. 

Somewhat exaggerated.

Fer bait we use baseball bats with huge treble hooks and throw ‘em all day.  I’m still sore.”  He rubs his shoulder, rather dramatically to my way of thinking. “We caught more’n a thousand fish apiece!”

That string of whoppers snaps his winning streak.  Normally I would not presume to steal a man’s thunder, but a half-truth is the most cowardly of lies and I feel duty-bound to correct errant reporting that may appear in our journal.  Yes sir.  This low-brow has sunk to self-aggrandizement and for no good reason; the fishing up there is so astounding that exaggeration is not required.

Here are the facts:  The lake is stocked by God and God alone, and the waters team with life.  Northern Pike in the 42-49 inch range are not uncommon, and they dutifully log such trophies in the Master Angler records, available to all.

Giant baits are not required. One-ounce spoons are what the pike crave, for reasons that escape me.  They are eager to bite and do so with savage alacrity.

The foul Lonagan’s count is somewhat inflated as well.  I believe 520 was the number of fish between the three of us.  Four days is around 28 hours in the boat and that works out to a fish about every three minutes on average.  I think.

But the man runs on with his drivel. “Flies and mosquitos crawl all over yer face, crawl across yer eyeballs, ‘n’ you can’t eat nothin’ without dem things gettin’ in yer mouth.”

Another outright lie.  We experience few flies and mosquitoes.  Perhaps fishermen foolish enough to walk directly into the dense woods suffer such iniquities, but personally, I do not understand that kind of behavior.  No sir!  There are plenty of trees to target on the fringe.  I never reached for the bug spray the entire trip and I can only assume that Lonagan wants to scare other sportsmen away from what he regards as his private fishing hole.

All this begs the question, What does fishing have to do with Chicago startups?’ My response is the same as in the past.  The lodge opened its doors in recent years using private equity, so it is a startup.  All who come here either hale from Chicago, once did so, or must pass through our fair city, so it qualifies as a Chicago startup.

Let me also point out that every budding Chicago entrepreneur requires vigorous alternate activity to effectively rest and return to battle.  A fishing trip such as this stimulates innovation and is therefore vital to a company’s bottom line.  Excellent fishing provides an elixir to top management—an essential part of doing business, and it is an admirable location for a board meeting.  Therefore I can state unequivocally that we were at this location performing important research—not goofing off.

Now, as we huddle around the Formica table, I raise my expertly crafted mint julep in a toast.  “Gentlemen.  We met at this very place, not two years past, to choose a gift for Jonelis, our fearless leader.  And I wish to point out that without the mentorship of today’s host, we may have invested in some foolish gewgaw.  But we did not.  Instead, we wisely selected an outing at this magnificent wilderness locale.  Let us raise a cheer to a man whose wisdom and kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. I toast Donatas Ludditis!”

We all raise our glasses.  Our host smiles sweetly while Lonagan chugs single malt from his tumbler, then belches.  I clearly hear him remark under his breath: “Windbag.”

Passing over this crass interjection, I address my comments to our host.  “The irresistible draw of the wild stands as the only sufficient excuse for having traveled with a lowlife like Lonagan.  Now behold how the man does sneer, and swell, and soar, and blaspheme the sacred name of Truth.  I should choose my companions more wisely.”

Lonagan’s face turns purple with rage. “You miserable old fossil…ya leftover from da musty past…I dunno how I survived four days in a boat with a useless crank like you.  Shoulda left you at da bottom o’ the lake!” 

I ignore him and turn back to our host in a confidential manner.  “Never argue with an idiot.  Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

“Shuttup ya—ya hack writer!”  Lonagan swings his meaty fist in a long reaching punch.

He crashes forward, belly first, splitting the table in twain and, in a more serious loss, he sweeps our drinks to the floor.

The force of his dive tips my chair back and as I fall, I see Old Man Ludditis swinging the whiskey bottle.  It connects across the lout’s shoulder.  Glass shards fly and whiskey floods the area worse than during business hours. “I no want fight in my bar,” He shouts. “You fight, you go outside.  This is place of peace.” 

As I pick myself up, I reflect on Lonagan’s huge fists.  They can do damage and have done so to many who are sorry to learn of it.  But I have avoided any repercussions because he missed the mark.

Our host dusts himself off, then produces a walnut out of nowhere and calmly cracks it using the crook of his left arm.  The pieces fall to the floor and he then cracks another.  Then another.

Those walnuts are a helpful reminder and I imagine a skull might make such a sound—my skull.  But this kind of rich old-world charm always soothes my ire, and it seems to do the same for the creature Lonagan, who appears unharmed.  Yes sir!  We are in Ludditis’ establishment, drinking his liquor, and cannot justifiably argue with such a sweet old gentleman who once boasted the title of chief enforcer for the Lithuanian mob (retired).  After all, what are a few hot words among friends?

We repair to another table and I for one, resolve to comply with the old man’s wishes—for now.  I sip my drink, and bide my time.  “Go ahead Lonagan,” I say, “tell him all about it.”

The man sneers at me, then goes to work. “We had lotsa heavy weather—kinda rough fer that tiny little pontoon plane.  Pilot passed out from fright ‘n’ I hadda take over the controls.  First time I ever landed on water so it wasn’t real pretty.” 

We never saw any thunderclappers.  The man spouts these lies without so much as a grin.  With mild and mannerly aplomb, I say, “It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”

“You callin’ me a liar?” 

“Well, perhaps it’s the best you can do.  A casual read of Scripture will show that man was made at the end of the week’s work, when God was tired.”

Lonagan’s eyes bulge and he stands for a repeat performance.

“I say no fight here! You boys shake hands.   Mr. Wayne, please let Loop tell it his own way.” 

Our host is right.  Don’t wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.  But for the record, we traveled by luxurious turboprop, tricked out with air conditioning, reclining leather seats, and a pretty stewardess who earnestly plied us with food and drink.  In an hour and a half, it whisked us away from Winnipeg, 500 miles north to a private gravel strip carved out of the forest.  But Lonagan has been babbling all this time.

Now he brandishes a photograph. “…and dis huge bear chased us back to our boat.  We barely escaped alive.”  More nonsense.  I’m shocked that the man didn’t claim to have fought it with his bare hands.  Perhaps that didn’t occur to him.  We saw the bear from the boat and went elsewhere for shore lunch.

“…beans fer breakfast.  Beans fer supper.”  I believe this is about as barbarous an exhibition as I have witnessed yet.  He exaggerates the fishing and then disparages the food.  He bolsters his ego on the backs of invented clap-trap deprivations.  It may be thought that I am prejudiced against the man.  Perhaps I am.  I would be ashamed of myself if it were not so.

Permit me to straighten out the matter. The guests congregate for breakfast and dinner in a large and beautifully crafted log lodge, and start the day with eggs, bacon, Red River Cereal, juice and hot coffee, and for dinner, steak, pork chops, barbeque ribs—all you can eat and all the trimmings, served graciously with table cloths and silverware—tools that Lonagan does not know how to use properly.

But shore lunch is the grandest treat of all.  Our guide chops wood, builds a fire, then cleans and cooks the walleye we just caught.  Ah shore lunch!  Beer batter walleye, honey garlic walleye, sweet and sour walleye.

And yes, I long to return, even if doing so means that I must put up with Lonagan.  Because this ain’t Chicago.  No sir!  This is North Star Executive Outpost on Knee Lake, Manitoba.

I make no apology for detailing the above information.  It will be news to some of my readers, at any rate.

Go to North Star website

Read BEST GIFT

Go to first installment – ROUGHING IT

Credits

Photos by John Jonelis

Some juicy quotes from Mark Twain.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..Copyright © 2019 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, Canada, Characters, Chicago Startup, Chicago Ventures, Donatas Ludditis, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Fishing, fly fishing, investor, loop lonagan, Mark T Wayne, new companies, Startup, startup company, vc, Venture, venture capital

CONTROLLED DESIGN MANAGEMENT – Part 4

By Moises J Goldman & John Jonelis

Today’s business culture is more strongly creative and entrepreneurial than at any time in history, posing new organizational opportunities and challenges.  That calls for a new way to think about and implement design management.  This is the final installment of a four-part series introducing the Controlled Design Management Model.  Using the language of the digital age, this model applies a radically different technique to managing the creative process.  The history and theory was discussed in Parts 1 through 3.  Now let’s set up a working model. 

Figure 6 – Controlled Design Management Model

Practical Example

Let’s optimize an organization using a Controlled Design management Model.  For clarity, this particular enterprise is engaged in the deployment of a product and has just three primary departments:

  • MARKETING DEPARTMENT – Produces market research, and marketing planning. The input to this department is idea generation from its founders, its research wing, or its own internal analysis. Its output is the product concept, complete with all the required features and characteristics that the market requires in tandem with a marketing plan for a successful launch.  Marketing’s output serves as the input for Systems Engineering.
  • SYSTEMS ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT: Translates the marketing requirements into engineering concepts, tests their feasibility (simulation), and produces the required technical maps and schematics to be able to create a working prototype. Its input is the output from Marketing. Its output is the technical representation of the product, including mathematical and simulation results, schematics, and mock-ups.  This becomes the input for Applied Engineering.
  • APPLIED ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT: Creates and tests a physical prototype until it is ready to deploy. (We’re not taking into consideration production or logistics in this example.). Applied Engineering starts with the output from System Engineering. Its output is the finished prototype ready for testing and then deployment by Sales.

We have three departments.  Each is solely responsible for the optimization and efficiency of its own particular function within the organization.  Each is in a dependent, sequential relationship with two other departments.  Now, we link the individual department’s optimizing flow chart (from Figure 6) into one companywide Controlled Management Model.  (See Figure 7.)

Figure 7 – Optimized Departments

Let’s look at application.  Based on Figure 7, it’s clear that to achieve optimum productivity, a department must minimize internal disturbances.  Examples of such disturbances include underperforming employees, faulty data, equipment malfunctions, changes in existing regulations, policy changes induced by government, budgetary restrictions, new competition, company restructuring.  All of these are down-to-earth practical matters, as are the corrections, which are ordinary responses and decisions.  What is new is the simple structure of the decision-making process and the ability to map it and to know exactly where, in the larger picture, you are at any given time.  That helps eliminate bottlenecks and confusion, and helps address a problem early—before a weakness becomes magnified down the line.

Conclusion

Does the Controlled Design Management Model meet the goals stated earlier in the paper?

  • Intuitive – The management system is readily understood and implemented using visual tools in the language of the digital age. It entirely bypasses complex mathematics as well as the sequential categorization of past models.
  • Adaptable – It does not impose a particular organizational structure but rather adapts to any.
  • Focused – Departments do not involve themselves in the optimization of other departments—each is concerned only with what is under its direct control.
  • Practical – It provides a roadmap for effectively optimizing and controlling the release of any new product. Each department’s optimization is a benefit to the workflow of the entire organization.
  • Measurable – Because the sum of independent optimized departments adds up to the optimized organization, upper management can easily map and manage the progress of each department and the entire organization. Even in a complex organization, it is a simple matter to identify the bottlenecks in the process.

The Controlled Design Management Model works with the same basic material as all previous models—people, ideas, and structure—but does so from an entirely different perspective, using different thinking and tools—the very same principles as electronic control system design.  It provides a practical digital approach in a digital age.

Go back to Part 1

Download full paper (PDF)

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References

  1. Deming, W. Edwards (1964) [1943].  Statistical Adjustment of Data. Dover. ISBN 0-486-64685-8. LCCN 64-24416. (1966) [1950].  Some Theory of Sampling. Dover. ISBN 0-486-64684-X. LCCN 66-30538.
  2. William Ouchi: “Theory Z” How American Business can meet the Japanese Challenge.  Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1981
  3. Lean was originated by Eiji Toyoda and Taichi Ohno of Toyota Motors.   Ohno, Taiichi (1988), Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production, Productivity Press, ISBN 0-915299-14-3
  4. C. F., L. S. Shieh, Joint Automatic Control Conference, Michigan, p 454
  5. Shieh, L.S. and Goldman, M. J., 1974 I.E.E.E. Trans. Circuit Syst., 21, 341
  6. The Hollow Corporation, Anita Campbell, Small Business TRENDS (2012)  https://smallbiztrends.com/2004/04/hollow-corporation.html

Graphics

Flow-charts by Moises Goldman and John Jonelis.

Graphics from MS Office.

About the Authors

Dr. Moises J Goldman holds an MSEE and a PhD in Engineering Systems from UCLA, specializing in large-scale systems, process optimization, and product innovation. MBA from MIT Sloan, specializing in strategic planning and business development.  His focus is on periods of challenge and change, including startup, growth and restructuring.  Goldman served as CEO, COO, and CTO in diverse industries and developed business across the USA, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Brazil, working with small firms as well as branded giants such as Lockheed, Rockwell, ATT, America Movil, GM, Ford, Scotia Bank, and HSBC. Sits on several boards where entrepreneurship and innovation are the primary goals.  Consults to merging companies during the integration phase as well as startups, helping them become going concerns. Member of several advisory boards at MIT.  Founding member of the TALENT program at IMSA.  Dr. Goldman can be reached at Moises.Goldman@outlook.com

John Jonelis patented seven products and developed dozens more in the field of air pollution control.  Created the Revelation suite of trading algorithms.  Private equity investor.  Artist.  Writer, and publisher of Chicago Venture Magazine and News From Heartland—the Journal of the Heartland Angels.  Author of the novel, The Gamemaker’s Father.  Illinois Wesleyan BFA, 1974.  Kellogg MBA 1989.

 

Copyright © 2019 Moises Goldman & John Jonelis. All rights reserved. Quotation with attribution is permitted for educational purposes.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..
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CONTROLLED DESIGN MANAGEMENT – Part 3

By Moises J Goldman & John Jonelis

Our business culture has evolved and attitudes have re-aligned.  In sharp contrast to the past, creative employees have finally gained the acceptance and respect they deserve for the crucial role they play in organizational success.  The business climate is faster-paced, than ever—rapidly changing, and multicultural.  Staunchly individualistic leaders backed by a computer savvy workforce characterize our high tech companies, and increasingly, our entrepreneurial ventures.  It is important to appreciate that sequential charts of managerial jargon are no longer well received.  Such things impose uniformity, and uniformity is anathema to today’s creative workforce.  Under these circumstances, it is extremely challenging to manage product design using yesterday’s managerial paradigms.

This is the third of four installments.  We’ve explored the history and current state of modern management philosophy.  Now, we will introduce an entirely new mode of thought—the Controlled Design Management Model.

To be meaningful in today’s culture, any shift in management strategy must meet certain critical standards.  It must be intuitive, adaptable, focused, practical, and measurable.  These are the goals we will set out to achieve.

  • Intuitive and Adaptable – No rigid chart or schematic to implement.
  • Focused – A practical structure, which zeros in on workflow.
  • Practical – Departments will implement the model themselves.
  • Measurable – Management can track progress.

In order to achieve these goals, we must build self-optimization into the product cycle and to meet that end, we base our new thinking on Control Systems Theory, as used in such places as computerized system controls and inertial navigation systems.  We call it the Controlled Design Management Model.  For the purposes of this paper, we will circumvent the complex mathematics of Control Theory and present the ideas in an intuitive format, reducing key concepts to graphical form.

Controlled System

At its most basic form, a Controlled System is a process by which an objective or Input generates an outcome or Desired Output.  Suppose, for example, that the system is a bicycle factory and we are trying to build a super bicycle.  If the factory, as a system, behaves appropriately, then the factory will output the desired output – a super bicycle.  If, on the other hand, the factory does not operate appropriately, the output will be an undesired outcome – perhaps a tricycle.  It will be useful to reduce this to graphical form.  (See Figures 3a and 3b.)

Figure 3a – Controlled System

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Figure 3b – Uncontrolled System

This may seem rather simplistic, so let’s build on it.  To make the system self-optimizing, we add a feedback loop to the above diagram. (See Figure 4.)  When the desired outcome becomes equal to the desired objective, then the error (or difference between objective and outcome) will be zero.  Else, corrections are made (called “pivoting” in Lean Theory) until we eventually arrive at the MVP or initial product deployment. 

Figure 4 – Simple self-optimizing Controlled System

Let’s see what this elementary flow chart accomplishes.  We plot the input and output of the above system, where Time is the X-axis and Magnitude is the Y-axis and produce a graph.  The process swings back and forth until it navigates the optimal path.  (See Figure 5.  Note the similarity to an internal navigation system.)

Figure 5 – Self-optimization through a feedback loop

From Figure 5, we surmise that the output reaches steady state, at t(1) which is when the desired objective is equal to the desired outcome, rendering the error equal to zero.  The behavior of the output prior to reaching t(1) is called the transient response and beyond t(1) is called the steady state response.

  • Transient Response is composed of idea, concept, feasibility, and definition (from the Traditional Model).
  • Steady State Response is composed of Deployment, Growth, and Maturity (from the Traditional Model) and the release of the Minimum Viable Product or MVP (from the Lean Model).

Transient Response relates to the problems of developing a product or process.  It might look like the following example:  How can we make an elevator reach the twelfth floor more quickly?  In actual practice, it may stop at any number of floors on the way, and even overshoot floor twelve before coming back to open the doors for you. Any number of solutions may be proposed.  We examine goals, stretch technology, and make tradeoffs.

Steady State Response deals with entirely different concerns.  The MVP of an optimized elevator schedule is ready to launch.  How can we standardize, market, deploy, and improve the new design or schedule?

Can we control how fast the outcome will reach its objective?  The answer is yes.  Goldman, Shieh, and Chen proved this many years ago by using the Second Cauer Form of continued fractions expansion.4, 5  Let’s look at it in graphical form.  By applying a few minor modifications to Figure 4, we have a self-optimizing module:

Figure 6 – Controlled Design Management Model

Figure 6 differentiates Transient from Steady State responses and adds an Internal Disturbance, representing noise due to poor product design, faulty test equipment, poor engineering, and other considerations. The optimization process reduces such noise closer and closer to zero via the process of a feedback loop.  Mathematically speaking, this is the same controlled system as in Figure 3(a), but this representation depicts the separate influences of the transient and steady state responses.

A New Perspective

What advantages does the Controlled Design management Model offer over the Lean and Traditional Models? The first is simply knowing which phase of the model contributes to the transient portion—idea, concept, feasibility, development—and which phase contributes to the steady-state portion—final deployment, growth and maturity of the design. For management, this is critical.

  • By controlling the part of development that contributes to the transient response, management can optimize the rise time and minimize time to deployment.
  • By controlling the factors that contribute to the steady state response, management can optimize the deployment, growth, and maturity of the product.

A mid to large organization includes many and varied departments through which product development flows from idea generation to maturity. What are some of the advantages to our new model?

  • By describing our model in the language of the digital age, each individual department can easily put it into practice.
  • Each department is responsible ONLY for what it can control. Each is given a unique decision input and desired output.
  • Each department can optimize its output using the model. This, in turn, yields an optimized organization.  An optimized organization is, quite simply, the sum of the optimized departments.

Next, we’ll demonstrate these ideas with a practical example.

Go to Part 4

 Go back to PART 1

 Download full paper (PDF)

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References

  1. Deming, W. Edwards (1964) [1943].  Statistical Adjustment of Data. Dover. ISBN 0-486-64685-8. LCCN 64-24416. (1966) [1950].  Some Theory of Sampling. Dover. ISBN 0-486-64684-X. LCCN 66-30538.
  2. William Ouchi: “Theory Z” How American Business can meet the Japanese Challenge.  Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1981
  3. Lean was originated by Eiji Toyoda and Taichi Ohno of Toyota Motors.   Ohno, Taiichi (1988), Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production, Productivity Press, ISBN 0-915299-14-3
  4. C. F., L. S. Shieh, Joint Automatic Control Conference, Michigan, p 454
  5. Shieh, L.S. and Goldman, M. J., 1974 I.E.E.E. Trans. Circuit Syst., 21, 341
  6. The Hollow Corporation, Anita Campbell, Small Business TRENDS (2012)  https://smallbiztrends.com/2004/04/hollow-corporation.html

Graphics

Flow-charts by Moises Goldman and John Jonelis.

Graphics from MS Office.

About the Authors

Dr. Moises J Goldman holds an MSEE and a PhD in Engineering Systems from UCLA, specializing in large-scale systems, process optimization, and product innovation. MBA from MIT Sloan, specializing in strategic planning and business development.  His focus is on periods of challenge and change, including startup, growth and restructuring.  Goldman served as CEO, COO, and CTO in diverse industries and developed business across the USA, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Brazil, working with small firms as well as branded giants such as Lockheed, Rockwell, ATT, America Movil, GM, Ford, Scotia Bank, and HSBC. Sits on several boards where entrepreneurship and innovation are the primary goals.  Consults to merging companies during the integration phase as well as startups, helping them become going concerns. Member of several advisory boards at MIT.  Founding member of the TALENT program at IMSA.  Dr. Goldman can be reached at Moises.Goldman@outlook.com

John Jonelis patented seven products and developed dozens more in the field of air pollution control.  Created the Revelation suite of trading algorithms.  Private equity investor.  Artist.  Writer, and publisher of Chicago Venture Magazine and News From Heartland—the Journal of the Heartland Angels.  Author of the novel, The Gamemaker’s Father.  Illinois Wesleyan BFA, 1974.  Kellogg MBA 1989.

Copyright © 2019 Moises Goldman & John Jonelis. All rights reserved. Quotation with attribution is permitted for educational purposes.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..
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TOP OF THE LIST

by Mark T Wayne

“Admirable!  Superlative!  Top of the list!  Gentlemen, you are indeed fortunate that I invited you here!”  I study the greedy faces of my two compatriots—the estimable Donatas Ludditis (good old Don) as well as the execrable Loop Lonagan and his stinking bull terrier, Clamps.  (Claims it’s a therapy dog.)  We are here as judges, along with a crowd of luminaries from Chicago’s startup community for the finals of the tenth annual POWER PITCH competition.  Today we will hear pitches from a host of exciting new companies.  Yes sir!  The enthusiasm is riveting.

Clamps

Don bows politely and speaks like a gentleman.  “Am glad I come,” he says in his charming Lithuanian accent.

Lonagan leers at me.  “Lemme at ‘em,” he says in his gutter lingo.

The IN2 Accelerator

I scan the ranks of judges and note representatives of the Business Plan Police lurking in the wings.  We want no trouble from them. But I must familiarize my guests with the program.  “This, gentlemen, is IN2—potentially the greatest startup accelerator of its kind in the world, with facilities available at a mere handful of elite universities”  I sweep my arm in an arc to indicate our magnificent surroundings. “Offices here and at the huge 1871 incubator.” 

Clamps releases one resounding bark—basso profundo—and lolls a broad tongue out over enormous teeth.  From a suitcoat pocket, Lonagan produces a hunk of meat.  He tosses it into the gaping maw—just as the teeth snap closed in hungry abandon.  This animal and its uncouth owner make up a last-minute replacement, foisted upon me by the editor.

On stage, Dr. Carl Heine announces the first competitor.  With a cane, I prod my guests and lower my voice to a whisper. “Don’t make me ashamed, you two derelicts.”  Don straightens his back and faces front with all due alacrity and respect.  Lonagan slouches like the slob he is.  The round begins:

IN2 Maker Space

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Flameless

Fifty percent of all residential fires are cooking related. This company uses sound waves—yes, sound waves—to extinguish fires automatically.  It is safe. It is neat.  It does not belch messy fluid or poisonous gas, as do other fire suppression methods.  We watch a video showing the system in action and the audience bustles with delight.   Amazing!

“Five minutes!”  The shout stops the speaker in mid-sentence.  That is the kind of strict discipline that warms my heart.  But even under the gun of limited time, their business plan is complete with financial projections, marketing plan, intellectual property, and go-to-market strategy.  Well coached, sir!  Very well coached!

Moises Goldman – Judge

Lonagan elbows Don and whispers:  “Deeze guys look kinda young, doncha think?”  The response to his juvenile utterance gets cut short when the next company is introduced:

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The Oil Magnet

This is a new technology for cleaning oil slicks.  They disburse magnetic nanoparticles into the spill, and then recover black gold with a magnetic boom.  A demonstration unit elicits gasps from the crowd—the team pulls off this whiz-bang presentation with thoroughness and aplomb.  I believe I’m sensing a rhythm to this event.

Demo

The foul Lonagan leans over to me and mutters with his rank breath and wet voice: “How old d’ya s’pose dem guys is?”

“Shush! You, sir, are making a mistake. Mark your judging sheet.” I thump the document with a finger. “The next company is already speaking.” I cannot abide ludicrous interruptions during business hours.

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Series

Ninety six billion dollars of crops are lost annually due to pests, standing water, and soil degradation.  This company uses drones and GPS to scan farm fields automatically, in both the visible and infrared spectrums.  They scrutinize images against a large computer database and detect damage down to the individual plant.  And they do it cheaply.  Their mentor is DuPont.

Don nudges my arm and leans close to my ear, speaking with hushed tones in his broken English:  “In old country, I not see anything like this.  Is just high school.  Am impressed!”

Judge

Apparently overhearing, Lonagan lets out a shout of desperation:   “Hey, yer sayin’ dis’s a high school?—a high school?” After this inane utterance, he buries his face in both hands and moans as if in deep pain.  “And youse guys dragged me outa bed!  On Saturday!”  His outburst elicits a perplexed expression from the speaker and rumblings of outrage from the judges and crowd.  Clamps leaps against his master and howls.  I am astonished—astonished I say—that the man only just noticed the fact that this is indeed a high school.  True, it does not look like one, but nobody can be that obtuse.

Judge

I am unable to restrain myself from delivering a rebuke, and do not spare any volume:  “Sir, your puerile reaction is entirely inappropriate to the situation!”  I fix my stare until the man squirms.

Clamps wags his tail as I continue:

“This, sir, is THE high school—IMSA—the Illinois Math and Science Academy—the statewide school for the highly gifted!  You may find other schools riddled with dropouts and illiterate stooges that quickly jettison whatever knowledge they accidentally absorb, but these students WANT to lead society! At this fine institution, 99.8% of the graduates go to college!  Many of the businesses you see here come to fruition and these students intern at actual startup companies around the city!” 

Mark T Wayne

As my gaze bores into his soul, the man appears badly stunned.  Dare I tell him that some of these teams are middle school students?  Those around us seem well satisfied with my lecture, but I cannot be certain that any real ideas penetrate Lonagan’s frontal lobe.  From under my shaggy brows, I pin my friend Don with a meaningful glance and tilt my head in the general direction of the foul perpetrator and his dog.

Don immediately comes to my rescue:  “Loop!  Is great place!  Not gangs here!  No drugs!  No fear!”

“Whatsa funna dat?”

Don keeps at him.  “Faculty 47% PhD!”

“Piled Higher ‘n’ Deeper.”

Clamps barks.

Dr. Heine spares us further histrionics by introducing the next pitch.

Judge

iCane

What grandpa is ever without his cane?  This company makes a smart cane with medical reminders, loud SOS alarm location tracking, geo fencing, pedometer, and Bluetooth.  It folds up and is easy to use.  My walking stick seems inadequate by comparison.  What an excellent idea!

Judges

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epilEXPERT

Fifty thousand people a year die from epileptic seizures. It’s a $27.8B market.  This company makes a device that detects the problem, alerts the caregiver’s phone, and keeps a trail of raw data.

Lonagan slurrs out a belligerent question:

“How y’gonna run a business ‘n’ finish yer education at da same time?”  The man has gone from judge to heckler and I find myself acutely embarrassed for him.  The team covered this point in its presentation.  Like most of these companies, it will license its technology—in my view, an elegant and fully reasonable solution.

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Rethink Numeracy

This is a new way to teach numbers to children with disabilities, and the team seems to have cracked the problem.  They’re already working with neuropsychology experts and marketing their methods through a reputable center for the care of children with Downs Syndrome.

Finals

Lonagan scratches his monstrous dog behind the ears and puts another question: “How y’gonna scale a thing like dat?” 

This slurred interrogatory barely precedes the flashing of a badge. “Business Plan Police.  Please come along quietly, sir.”  Lonagan immediately balls a fist and clouts the officer to the floor.

Clamps licks the stricken man’s face. The officer regains consciousness and blows his whistle.

From out of the crowd, three musclebound agents pile onto Lonagan and hustle him out of the room like a roll of carpet.  I catch a glimpse of his feet kicking and hear him spew a few choice and utterly foul invectives as he disappears out the door.  Clamps bounds after them, tail wagging vigorously.

The crowd hushes a moment, then shrugs off the incident and Don lets out a sigh.  “Is bad.  I wonder do we ever see Loop again.” 

I also feel somewhat perplexed about such a questionable privilege.  In any given year, the Business Plan Police arrest a number of startups—never to be seen again—but I have never known them to abduct a judge at a pitch competition.  I can now relax.  It makes me most grateful.

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Finals

Three high school teams will advance to the regionals.  (Lower grades compete and are rewarded, but they cannot advance.)  Last year, IMSA won the top three slots at the regional competition.  Here are the results of today’s event:

Jim Gerry – IMSA

1st Place –  $1500 – award sponsor: Charles Whittaker

  • OIL MAGNET – Marisa Patel-O’Conner, Eden Gorevoy & Sol Hwangbo (Juniors at IMSA)
  • iCANE – Umika Arora (7th grade at St. Catherine Laboure School)

2nd Place – $1000 – award sponsor: Deliciousness

  • FLAMELESS – Sivam Bhatt & Nikhil Madugula (Seniors at IMSA)
  • RETHINK NUMERACY – Akshaya Raghavan (Junior at IMSA)

3rd Place – $500 – Award sponsor: After the Peanut

  • epilEXPERT – Monika Narain (8th grade at Mead Jr High) & Jayant Kumar (7th grade at Grainger Middle School)

Alternate

  • SERIES – Andre Wiedenmann & Tommy Neidlein

Britta McKenna – IMSA

Other Companies (alphabetical)

  • 21 C2 – Maryam Mufti, Erika Ezife
  • ACTIV8 – Anusha Trivedi
  • AMENITY – Sonia Edassery, Milica Barac
  • COMMUTE – Natalie Sanchez
  • BRIDGE TUTORING – Armando Pizano, David Gonzalez, Cain Yepez & Stefany Boyas
  • ENABLE EQUITY – Rachel Mason, Shikha

Adhikari

  • GOGO RIDERS – Rishi Modi
  • IDEAL SUGAR – Maya Wlodarczyk
  • IDROGENY TECHNOLOGY – Sricharan Sanakkayala
  • IMMERSION – Neil John, Samuel Anozie, Samantha Alexis Lehman
  • INSPIRULINA – Meghan Hendrix, Kanika Leang, Harsha Nalam
  • INSTA-VILLAGE – Catelyn Rounds & Julian Kroschke
  • INTELLIFIT – Steven Andreev
  • INTELLI-TEST – Akash Basavaraju
  • PHOCUS – Matthew Selvaraj, Louise Lima, Vaishnavi Vanamala, Eric Errampalli, Arthur Lu
  • POCKET PASS – Ajay Jayaraman
  • PROMETHEA – Ayush Bhalavat, Ian Son
  • SAVE OUR STARVING SOULS – Shreya Parepally, Sofie Heidrich
  • SCHOOLBOARD – Samuel Anozie, Aryan Walia, Mary Ashley Tenedor
  • SHINDIG – Nikita Elkin
  • TAKE HOME – Aliah Shaira De Guzman, Michelle Sia, Aryan Walia
  • TRANSSPEED – Atharva Gawde
  • THINKING CAP – Nishant Bhamidipati, Ryan Talusan, Micah Casey-Fusco
  • VIRTUPEACE – Michael McKelvie, Max Knutson
  • UNITED 5 AEROSPACE – Levi Raskin, Duncan Osmund, Wyatt Funkhouser, Ethan Tse

Dr. Carl Heine – IMSA

IMSA IN2 Contact Info

Address – 1500 Sullivan Rd. Aurora, IL 60506

Website – https://www.imsa.edu/

Dr. Carl Heine – heine@imsa.edu

Britta McKenna – bmckenna@imsa.edu

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Photography – John Jonelis

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..Copyright © 2018 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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GET YOUR OWN ‘BOTS

OR RISK BEING PUT OUT OF BUSINESS BY THEM

by Howard Tullman

Don’t fear the bots. They’ll free your company from unprofitable and tedious work. Yes, some jobs are going to be displaced. But the ones that are left and the new ones the bots will create will be more productive and way more interesting.

I realize that it’s a little frightening for many of us when we hear some of the intimidating statistics about headcount reductions in more and more industries that are being driven by the growing deployment of what we’re generically calling “bots.” But I don’t think bots are so bad for business. I realize that, while the major shifts are just beginning, we’re already talking about the displacement of thousands of analysts and adjusters in the insurance and finance industries as well as hundreds of highly-paid attorneys in sectors of the banking business. The sooner you figure out how to incorporate and deploy these little time- and money-savers, the better off you and your business will be. And that goes for businesses of all sizes.

Excepting some of the folks who will be replaced by these efficient and energetic little wonders, it will be a break for the better. Honest. No one in their right mind will miss any of the boring, repetitive and utterly useless tasks that are a painful part of too many of our jobs. If your tasks can be reduced to a set of instructions and rules that need to be repeatedly and flawlessly executed, we’ll soon enough find a program or a machine to do that work better, quicker and more accurately than you– and to do it 24/7 as well. No one argues with that part of the equation. We’d all love to be freed up from our chores and be doing exciting, creative and constructive work.

The rub comes in the rest of the story – the ratio and the scale of the jobs being eliminated as compared with the new jobs available to replace them. To quote Bruce Springsteen, in My Hometown, “Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back.” Take a look at the hospitality business as a simple example. Airbnb is closing in on Marriott’s $42.7 billion market cap (it’s already worth about $10 billion more than Hilton), but the employee headcounts of these companies are in different universes. Marriott employs more than 225,000 people, Airbnb about 3,500– yes 3,500 employees. And I’m not just picking on Marriott. Hilton has about 170,000 team members. You can argue that some of those people are doing different and allegedly irreplaceable functions. But in the end, the real question is whether the customer/guest’s needs are being more than met. None of Marriott’s guests really cares about whatever it is that fills the day for those extra 400,000 workers. I’m not even sure that most of their managers know what makes up their day.

When you couple the substantial reductions in the workforce with the readily-demonstrated and clearly impressive gains in productivity and lower operating costs that we’re also seeing, it’s clear that there are major bumps in the road ahead and significant disruptions in the ways business has traditionally been done. This is especially true because the vast majority of these changes are neither complicated in regard to the technologies nor costly in terms of the required capital. Low-hanging fruit abounds. JP Morgan Chase reports eliminating more than 350,000 hours of legal document review time per year by employing bots and smart contracts.

When I use the term “bots,” I’m not talking about anything as challenging as truly intelligent agents or even anything autonomous. I’m talking about simple lines of code– and not that many– that can successfully execute instructions and directives or commands that are well-established and documented by humans. I hate to call any of this stuff artificial intelligence. At best it’s augmented and extended intelligence. The intelligence being extended is ours; the folks being augmented are us. We’re talking about systems and tools that will help us perform routine tasks with minimal supervision or ongoing direction, and essentially automatically, upon request. Every business still has some of these pockets of obvious inefficiency and it’s mainly ignorance of better options and inertia that keeps them from realizing immediate improvements and significant cost savings. Your business does too, and the sooner you do your own audit and analysis, the better off and more competitive you’ll be. (See Use a Mirror to Mind Your Own Business First)

There are opportunities everywhere, but the sweetest spots for almost any business seem to fall into four recurring buckets. Forget about chatbots and retweeters. Focus internally first where you can get the biggest bang for your buck and where you can ride on existing rails. The people providing support and resources in this emerging space are few and far between right now, but they tend to target these critical areas: HR, Finance, Operations and Sales. I know, you’re already saying, “well duh, that’s just about the whole business”, so trim it down to HR and Finance and start there. Eat the elephant one bite at a time.

One of the best providers is an 1871 alumni organization called Catalytic/www.catalytic.com/> whose tagline says it all: “Do more of what you love, and less of what you don’t.” They are smart enough to understand that they are in a “rinse and repeat” business so that each time they build a new process bot they create the ability to provide a version of that same solution to thousands of other businesses more efficiently, more rapidly, and less expensively. They talk about concrete client results delivered in days, not months or years.

And, to be successful, you need a plan that’s ongoing and iterative and that’s always targeting and attacking the dumbest things you are doing. In many cases, it’s an approach that follows the same basic steps: digitize and dump the paper; speed up the flow and the inter- and intra-departmental handoffs; automate as many steps in the process as possible; measure the results; and do it again. It needs to become a habit and a mantra of your business—always moving to raise the bottom and improve the average.

It’s interesting to watch the adoption cycle as well. It’s both competitive and contagious. The more you do; the more your people will want to do and, interestingly enough, you’ll have them bringing suggestions and ideas to you for next steps–forward integrations into other programs like Word and Excel, for example—instead of sitting on their hands and bitching about the bots.

The dashboards and the flow charts that you now have access to provide levels of actionable information and data that were never available before. Frankly, these are the exact tools that you need to move your business forward. Managing by exception rather than brute force is the only way to spread your scarce and costly resources around.

 

 

Howard Tullman is the father of Chicago’s 1871 incubator.

Read his bio on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_A._Tullman

Check out his websites at http://tullman.com/  and http://tullman.blogspot.com/

Or just type his name into your favorite search engine.

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This article previously appeared in Inc.

Image Credits – Getty Images, MS Office

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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TOO MUCH FUN

by John Jonelis

How does a Type A find rest from the daily barrage of demands and decisions? Alternate activity, of course! Here’s my best pick for a quick weekend retreat. This is too much fun to keep to myself.

Every year like clockwork, the big King Salmon Run takes place in rivers feeding the Great Lakes. The best of these is Michigan’s Pere Marquette. Now admit it—hooking and battling powerful fish is completely different from the daily grind. This will be a vigorous weekend of personal rejuvenation. And you can put it on next year’s calendar right now and schedule time off. It always happens the last weekend of September!

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The Pere Marquette

This is not a wide river, but it haunts all those that set foot in it. There is nothing trivial about this place. Kings come here to spawn and die. Their offspring will mature in Lake Michigan and years later, return to this very spot. God stocks these waters; nobody else does that on the Pere Marquette, and the great Salmon swim in abundance.

Here a sportsman’s worth is measured in reverence for God’s creation. What do I hold sacred in this place of death and rebirth? Shall I trample through its wild waters, and in my vulgar pride debase its sanctity and my very soul? Or do I, like a pagan idolater, worship the creation—not the Creator? Let it not be so! May I worship You, dear God, who made this magnificent river and exult in Your glory! It is majestic in this place!

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My Secret Spot

This river runs through the Huron-Mansitee National Forest—an area of immeasurable natural beauty. It’s designated a Blue Ribbon Sanctuary. The section I fish lies between Gleason’s Landing and Highway M-37 near Baldwin Michigan.

This is a no-kill zone. Fly rods only. Single hooks no larger than #4. No live bait. No snagging. Small nets. All fish caught here are tenderly released to spawn. The fishing is extraordinarily good. Do you wonder why?

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Bueter’s Salmon Camp

Every year, on the last weekend of September, John and Rhonda Bueter run this venerated event with a tradition going back over a quarter century. Here I pitch my tent or I might rent a cabin at the adjacent Cloud9 Resort. I’m not looking for luxury. Roughing it is part of the experience.

The profane gather here and I am one of them. We are men and women from all walks of life—entrepreneurs and tradesmen, city dwellers and outdoorsmen. Every year we gather to immerse ourselves in this sacred place that is the Pere Marquette.

That and tie flies and teach each other the best ways to catch these magnificent fish.

That and consume great quantities of wonderful food.

That and spend our nights wading the river among teaming schools of monster Salmon—trying our skill with long rods.

That and sit around the roaring campfire sipping good bourbon and telling precious and highly appreciated lies.

That and sleep till noon and do it all over again. I call that the perfect weekend retreat!

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A Night on the River

I arrive early to get more time on the water and on this first night, I wade the river’s currents alone. Here in the dark forest night, I peer about in the eerie glow of my headlamp at pods of rising dorsal fins. In this river, my quarry averages 20 pounds but some run twice that size.

Mine is a 10-weight fly rod and my tippet is 20# fluorocarbon—not the flimsy stuff from typical fly fishermen’s lore. I carry a small box of crudely made flies that I hope will trigger a strike from an enormous King.

All around me, big Salmon leap clear of the water. They make spectacular splashing displays as they motor across shallow gravel flats, all but their bellies entirely visible above the waterline. As I watch, one leaps an embankment and beaches itself. Really! I wade over to coax it back in the river.

This night I’m rewarded with numerous strikes but few hookups. That’s normal. Twice I fight a fish for ten minutes or more, only to lose it for no apparent reason. That’s normal too. I choose my next position and remain still a while. A Salmon bumps my legs. Then again. I glance down and watch a huge King swim between my feet.

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Sweet Battle

Fish on! This one feels heavy and powerful. He fights like a tiger and it takes all my strength to keep pressure on him. I fight line-in-hand for several minutes, then he runs downstream, taking out my line. Now my big primitive fly reel sings as he peels off more and more. When he stops his run, I tighten the drag so it barely clicks as I lift the rod. I move toward the fish and methodically pump him toward me.

Now he’s near, but he moves into a deep hole. This is a problem. With all my strength, I’m merely supporting him in the main current. He’s resting. I apply lateral pressure and the fish cooperatively moves to my side of the river. But when I try to coax him toward my net, he moves back to that deep hole. It takes another fifteen minutes to work him out of that place—then I’m treated to a spectacular display of splashing and thrashing before he heads for a downed tree near the opposite shore.

I know I’ll lose him if he gets into that tangle of wood, so I wade downstream across a shallow gravel flat and tug him away from the hazard. He responds with another show of watery gymnastics, then moves back to that same deep hole. It’s his special hiding place, but this time I’m fighting him from the downstream side and I have the advantage. My pressure adds to that of the current. I’m tiring the fish.

Now he moves onto the shallow gravel and thrashes at the surface not twenty feet away. I see him in the beam of my headlamp. He’s huge—maybe 30 pounds!

Then he’s off! What did I do wrong? I never gave slack. My tackle didn’t snap. I check my fly and find the hook bent open. Tomorrow I’ll invest in better ones.

After a few minutes, my adrenaline slows and I thank God that I get to do this. I cannot comprehend how anybody can possibly land a bigger King than that on a fly rod. Yet, larger ones swim here. I tie on another fly and cast cross-stream.

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Reaction from Friends

“You wade in the water hunting 40 pound fish? Alone? At night? With a fly rod?” The questions get more and more shrill. “And you let them go? Are you crazy?”

I understand that to the uninitiated, my passion may appear extreme. SO IS MY REGULAR WORK! ALWAYS WAS. WHY SHOULDN’T MY WEEKEND RETREAT FOLLOW SUIT? THIS IS ALTERNATE ACTIVITY, AND THAT’S BETTER THAN BED REST!

But I don’t say any of that. No, I respond with a wan smile. “I do this every year at this time.” Then after I sigh from the flood of fond memories, I quietly state the obvious. “Who can stay away?”

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The Main Event

On Friday, official festivities begin. Campers arrive throughout the day, mostly late. They come by car, truck, and plane. John Bueter makes sure everybody is equipped with adequate gear, and if something crucial is missing…well, Baldwin boasts two fly shops.

Bueter takes the group out on the water about 10 pm. I can see my breath. Fog rises from the water’s surface. It’s unusually cold and tonight the air temperature drops to 35˚F, but my waders along with a hoodie and rain jacket keep me snug and cozy.

Bueter points out a female King Salmon and explains where the males will position themselves. “Don’t cast where there aren’t fish,” he says. He demonstrates the most effective way to present the fly and then positions fishermen up and down the stream. I asked him why I get so many strikes but so few hookups, so he watches me and soon sets me straight.

A gal fishing upstream is fighting a huge King. I try to net it, and in my enthusiasm, I take a dunk in the icy water. Her Salmon is so big, it sticks way out of my net. What a thrill!

But now I’m soaked—carrying water INSIDE my waders, and it’s really cold. You don’t fool around with hypothermia. As I fish the remainder of the evening, I keep wading the river to maintain body heat. Four hours later, we’re back at camp and I indulge in a long hot shower. Bueter throws extra logs on the campfire while everybody tells stories and passes the bourbon. Tonight they nickname me “Bobber.”

At noon the next day, I climb out of my tent in amazingly good health and spirits and meet a new neighbor. Jen is a diminutive and vivacious gal of twenty-something. She and her husband just took up fly-fishing and this is their first try at Big Salmon.

Today I make a number of friends. I learn a new fly-cast, how to tie new fly patterns and the theory behind them, and I tuck away plenty of good food.

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Saturday Night

At 10:00 pm, Bueter again leads the group out on the river. It’s another cool night and fog from the river reflects my headlamp and obscures my vision. We explore a mile upstream and find several pods of large aggressive Kings.

I hook and fight two big ones. One snaps my 20 lb. leader. The other I land and release.

I hear Jen call out somewhere downriver: “I love fishing!” Everybody catches fish this night—remarkably fat and strong fish—all King Salmon fresh from the big lake.

It feels like time to turn in when Bueter’s shouts my name. I wade upstream to find Jen bending over a huge Salmon, nursing it back to swimming strength. Fishermen surround her, flashing photos.

Then together, Bueter and Jen lift the fish and we all gasp in awe. Never have I seen a Salmon that size. It weighs out at 40 pounds on the scale! Jen is beaming, and blurts out, “This is Christmas…and Birthday…and…that’s amazing—so amazing.”

How can anybody that diminutive and petite find the skill and strength to land a fish that size on a fly rod? This is the catch of the weekend. Because a first-time angler caught it, it makes the trip particularly special—a winner for everybody.

One happy fisherman shoots a video, which is posted below.

[WATCH VIDEO OF JEN’S CATCH]

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Farewell

Sunday, after a big breakfast, we honor two fishermen taken from us this year, and Bueter hangs their waders in memorial.

Oh God, they meant so much to these dear children of Yours. With deep sorrow and loss we spread their ashes across this unspoiled river given by You, dear Lord—this river they loved. Please take them into your arms for eternity and bless all their loved ones.

Read: CAN’T KEEP A SECRET

Also see: ALIEN ABDUCTS FISH, THROWS FISHERMAN BACK

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Contact

Call John or Rhonda Bueter and see if you can wrangle an invitation to Bueter’s Salmon Camp next year.

Phone – 231-745-3070,

Email – Cloud9Baldwin@sbcglobal.net

Website – www.Cloud9Baldwin.com

Snail Mail – Cloud9 Resort, 3360 South M-37, Baldwin MI 49304

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Photo credits

Daylight river and forest images as well as candid shots at camp by John Jonelis.

Night fishing photos by the entire crew.

Video by Dr. Michael Wang, edited JAJ

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Download – INSTRUCTIONS FOR BUETER’S THREE GO-TO SALMON FLIES ( PDF)

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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