Tag Archives: Airport

ROUGHING IT

Clark Gableas told by Mark T Wayne

“Don’t you want to feel safe?” asks Rosalind Russell.  In response, Clark Gable knits his brows. “I never have. What’s it like?” *  Vigorous travel is a grueling sport! One anticipates deprivation and hardship on any trip of significance. One seeks adventure! Exhilaration! One does not select air transportation to wrap oneself in a safe cocoon. No sir! Air travel exists for one and only one purpose. SPEED!

On this particular excursion, I am bound to a Wilderness Paradise with some questionable individuals. Traveling alongside me is the entire staff of that rag colloquially known as Chicago Venture Magazine.  As uncomfortable as that may seem, I have no recourse.  I must tolerate their companionship to reach my destination and my urge to visit the North Woods is almost too intense to bear.

We arrive at magnificent O’Hare Field–the busiest airport in the world–to find ragged lines of citizens in full commotion spilling out doorways onto the steaming pavement. Some chew their nails, others their neighbors. It takes just a few steps from our taxi to join the rabble. I always find these little conveniences such a pleasure. It is so re-assuring to arrive at a scene of anxiety and anger with hours to spare and no particular thing to do.

We inch through the line like a pig through a python. Several times I catch sight of security personnel examining various members of our group with a penetrating gaze and frightening intensity. I half expect one of them to break ranks and open fire, but perhaps that’s wishful thinking.

Mark T Wayne

In due course, we approach the official checkpoint and I am aghast—aghast I say—that a group such as ours clears security!  I must admit to a few tight moments.  Bill Blair experiences an awkward time of it, fitting his body through the x-ray booth.  There is that strange incident of the uniformed lady and her execrable and aggressive probe.  Then we are through!  Unarmed and entirely defenseless–our lives willingly surrendered to the whim of anonymous authorities.  We are now free to wander the protected concourses.  Free from malicious acts of maniacs, including any mischief we may perform on our own.  First we must wait for that Lonagan fellow to return from a strip search.

The man finally shows himself, shirttail wagging, carrying his shoes and a tumbler of what smells like cheap whiskey. Where he found that, I do not know, but I promise myself the same pleasure at the next opportunity. I lick my lips and scan for a tavern as we head to our assigned gate amid throngs of travelers trailing wheeled luggage. How such small bags carry sufficient weight to warrant wheels is a subject for speculation. The idea of gold bars comes to mind.

Through expansive windows we note the skies prematurely darkening.  This is contrary to all weather reports. We now face a more significant danger than random acts of violence.  Weather.  Apparently, no matter how often such events occur, it always comes as a nasty shock to one-and-all that it rains in Chicago. We can depend upon the authorities to protect us from this terrible threat, and looking around, I see anxious people, desperately clinging to hope that they might escape this fair city before the onrushing clouds envelop us.  I wonder, if given a modern weather bureau, Christopher Columbus would ever have discovered the New World.

No sooner do we find chairs than a sweet voice oozes from speakers overhead, informing us with utmost kindness of a delay and change in our gate assignment. I am almost oblivious to the import of the message, dazed by the beauty of that voice until Jim Kren rudely pokes me. “C’mon, we’re movin’,” he says in Midwestern style.

Mark T WayneTwo of our party sense trouble and take action in a timely manner. Ethan Sobriety finds a connection through Calgary, British Columbia. Warren D Mink boards a plane to Fargo, North Dakota. Perhaps he plans to hitchhike from there—I do not know. We are never to see those two souls again.

That leaves eight of us. Take a good look at this regiment, sir: If you believe that Loop Lonagan is a troublemaker, my compliments to your instincts! Jim Kren is that little one with his face balled up in a strange brew of anxiety and spite. I truly wonder how long he can keep that up before the inevitable coronary. Donatas Ludditis and I wager on it.

Ludditis is a genial man who has seen almost a hundred years of good and evil. I catch a glint of humor in his eyes and believe we share a common sentiment about our situation. Except for the irritating habit of cracking walnuts with his biceps, I enjoy the company of that old goat.

That giant blocking your sight of half the crowd is Bill Blaire. His grand scale is something to behold and he always reserves two airplane seats, preferably adjacent ones. I do not mean to imply obesity. The man is huge in a profound way.  I’ve seen him on airplanes before.  He bows low to cram his body beneath an overhead compartment then slips in, filling every available cubic inch of space like a huge overstuffed steamer trunk. I cannot believe that serves to improve his posture.

Alexander Harbinger also stands tall but only six-foot-five. I have never seen him slouch and find that particular trait obnoxious and inherently suspicious. That and his heavy accent. Joe Perogi owns an amazing flair for conversation if you do not sit beside him too long.  Then there is Jonelis, our host. The less said about that one the better. I feel generous today because he invited me on this delightful jaunt. And everybody is having such a good time.

You may ask how I, with my elegant mustaches, resplendent in my stately white suit, can possibly be associated with such people. I must admit, if I were a customs inspector, I would not permit this crowd to enter my country. Mark T WayneThese men are clearly desperate! They share a single-minded objective! They are all bound for a fishing excursion deep in the Canadian Wilderness! Our allotted time in Paradise is tightly scheduled, dearly purchased, and non-refundable! We do not take kindly to those who might cheat us out of a moment of our idle pursuit!

As the day grows old, another announcer—I believe the shift has changed—politely informs us in a mild baritone of yet another gate change. We rise and obediently shuffle to a new resting place. I find a comfortable chair and claim it. I will not relinquish it. No sir!

Ah, the comforts provided travelers these days. During the next twelve hours, mannerly messages pleasantly drift from the public address system, each repeating the status of our flight.  DELAYED. Cursed is more to the point. But that leaves sufficient time to read another chapter of my book, so I slouch back in my comfortable chair. This particular novel is written by America’s greatest author. It chronicles a delightful stagecoach journey to what was then the American Wild West and I cannot help but draw parallels to our current state of affairs.

Then finally, long after dark, when it is too late for recourse, they CANCEL our flight! I see the man making that dread announcement and overhear his cussing when he clicks off his microphone. His frustration is understandable. Cancelling a flight is a cowardly act bordering on criminal. I picture him at dawn, fighting a pistol duel with whatever craven official doomed us to this fate. Dawn is not far away. Perhaps I will see it–possibly act as second!

Then a voice over the speaker requests that we vacate the concourse. Immediately.  By some herding instinct, a huge line forms at the only desk assigned for re-routing this mob. Jonelis adroitly snags a loose ticket agent and leads him to a vacant computer terminal. After a half hour of rigorous and creative effort, the clerk throws up his hands. Then John whips out his enormous Galaxy Note and attempts to book a charter out of DuPage. Those airplanes are all grounded. One would think war had broken out, but all that has occurred is a little rain. I secretly dream about the joys of travel by horse.

Then I discover an enterprising establishment that has remained open throughout the chaos. Indeed, they do a brisk business—a very brisk business. American ingenuity at work! Yes sir! I am delighted to sample the fruits of free enterprise and take this opportunity to sip a Sour Mash or two. As I watch people scramble in all directions and others pile into that enormous line, I sit at the bar and order another happy round. One can scarcely expect to buy advance tickets to witness a spectacle like this!

Canada 2014-8060

No room can be found at the inn but the airport authorities thoughtfully set up thousands of cots, edge to edge, each furnished with a warm blue blanket. We all settle in for a fine night’s rest where the lights never dim and the public address system cycles through the same recorded doggerel—useful information regarding the smoking of cigarettes on the premises. These first-rate sleeping quarters are set up like magic within the concourse itself so we will not again suffer the indignities of the security personnel. That sir is what I call consideration! That is what I call luxury!

That night I wake to the horrible screech of rending aluminum as Bill Blaire’s cot collapses. His snoring attests to the fact that he, at least, loses no sleep over such trifles. I admire that in a man. A true woodsman, that Blaire—the Paul Bunyan of our group. That crumpled cot still resides somewhere beneath his great comatose body but I cannot see it so I cannot swear it. I nudge him with the toe of my boot. His snoring intensifies.

The police kindly keep their protective eye upon us until 4:00 am when security rousts every groggy being to attention with a commanding shout. It is a new day. As a seasoned traveler, I have already made necessary provision for my needs at the only privy in the vicinity. While the line to that vital facility grows, I march off in search of sustenance, and find it. Excellent bagels and lox, served ironically beside crisp bacon, with plenty of hot coffee. But presently, Jonelis whisks us away, back down the concourse to a waiting aircraft.

Two of our party get called by name for that flight. Then two more. We are standby passengers and Jonelis wrangles with the gate clerk as an officious woman with some sort of frequent flyer rights rudely exerts her authority to horn-in ahead of us with her entire party. That would mean the splitting of our group. I see the others flipping coins to determine who goes, who stays. But our host prevails. Another of life’s adventures conquered. We board a diminutive commuter plane and the broad shoulders of this city stack like spoons in cramped seats. Stinking in wrinkled, slept-in clothing, we finally escape this town. As wonderful as the experience has been, I am glad to move on to the next adventure. After all, we have lost a full day of wilderness leisure.

Canada 2014-8074

Ah, the miracle of modern flight! It takes twenty eight hours to board the plane in Chicago but a mere hour and a half  to reach Winnipeg International Airport!  In another hour, we clear customs. That sir is what I call FAST. That is what airlines are all about!  I gaze in admiration at our magnificent craft–its sweeping lines and powerful engines–so obviously built for speed and speed alone.  Yes sir!  That airplane looks fast standing still!

Meanwhile, Kren and Lonagan argue over the advantages of automobile transportation. Jonelis finds a Facebook page about a friend’s son who accomplished the amazing feat of skateboarding across the entire continent. That is an awesome adventure.  No officials coddling you with safety.  Picture yourself winding down a steep mountain road on a longboard. Such contraptions have no brakes sir! But that is a story for another time. ** I prefer the sublime comfort of the stagecoach bounding down a rutted road. On second thought, make it a train.

At this point we learn that the airline has misplaced all our luggage. That includes gear vital to the completion of our mission in the vast wilderness, especially our fishing rods! I overhear the customs inspector utter an unkind and unnecessary expletive regarding United Airlines.  That remark strikes me as unsporting after that brave entity has accomplished such a miracle–whisking us from Chicago to Winnipeg in an hour and change–and in such a painstaking cocoon of safety!

Grown men swear and gnash their teeth. After a dramatic display of emotion, our party repairs to the lobby for a meal.  Lonagan leads us to a place by the name of Louie’s Lotsa Pasta. But Jonelis vetoes that, and we enjoy exquisite repast at an excellent bistro named Stellas. I recommend it! Never take the pleasures of a good Jambalaya lightly.

Just a few hours later our gear arrives and we happily retire to our hotel. With precious fishing rods clutched in greedy hands, we head toward luxurious showers and soft beds.

We draw lots and I get Bill Blair’s room. That means another noisy night of it. But with customary forethought, I have purchased earplugs. Bill drops unconscious on one of the enormous queen-sized mattresses and uses all of it. The bed does not collapse and he starts snoring immediately–tired but safe. I must admit that I find it difficult to get the whole of him in the picture.

Canada 2014-8076 HUGE2-WEB

  Bill Blair on a queen-sized bed

Our bush plane will depart early next morning for a 500 mile leg further North. Perhaps I will tell you about that next time. Maybe.

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Go to Next Episode – CLOSER TO HEAVEN

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* Quote from the motion picture, They Met in Bombay.

** Longboard America Facebook Page Longboard AmericaA

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Photography by John Jonelis, except for Clark Gable, Mark T Wayne and Longboard America.

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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. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2014 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Bums, Canada, Characters, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Donatas Ludditis, loop lonagan, Man's Favorite Sport, Mark T Wayne, Mobile, new companies

STORY – A Three Part Series

Newt on the Wright BrothersJohn Jonelis

What do Newt Gingrich, Simon Sinek & Esther Choy have in common? 

In the first installment, Newt Gingrich treats us to an illuminating and inspiring story about entrepreneurship.  That’s right, a Story. Then in the same article you’ll see a riveting TED video by Simon Sinek, who makes exactly the same point with exactly the same Story but from a completely different perspective.  Part 2 shows how Esther Choy teaches Story to business execs.  In part 3, I tell a Story as a public speaker and end up playing the role of Walter Mitty – not a pretty sight.

We meet Gingrich at a little airport around the corner from my office and crowd together in a beautiful hangar with modern and vintage airplanes.  I stand, surrounded by press photographers.  The secret service accosts me twice (I must look suspicious) but I seem to get along with these guys and they don’t throw me out on my ear. 

I’ve transcribed Newt’s story as I heard it, in his quiet, plain-spoken language.

THE STORY OF THE WRIGHT BROTHERS

Making a Point

Using Story – jaj

VERBATIM – Speaker Gingrich:

“This is a great example of American ingenuity and inventiveness.  You can imagine we land a lot, which also means we take off a lot—I always say the Wright Brothers succeeded again.

If you look back here at these wonderful planes,” he turns to indicate a vintage Stearman and Piper Cub, “they represent the evolution of American invention.

I can see he’s got the crowd’s attention.  He goes on:  “The Wright Brothers were two bicycle mechanics in Dayton Ohio who set out to discover how to fly.  Now, being bicycle mechanics back then was a relatively high-end job.  But they spent time.  They studied birds.  They built their own wind tunnel.  And they spent years.  And they knew something really important that bureaucrats don’t seem to get.  THEY DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO FLY—SO EVERYTHING THEY WERE DOING WAS AN EXPERIMENT.

Vintage Stearman and Piper Cub

Vintage Stearman and Piper Cub – jaj

“One thing the US Government did to help them:  When they wrote the weather service they said, where is the best place in the United States to get an updraft—so you have a continuous wind coming up?  Because that makes it easier for the airplane to get lift.  Turns out to be Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, which around 1900 is a really empty, barren place.

“And so to get there from Dayton they have to take a train.  So every summer they load the train with extra wood.  Now, the reason they’re taking extra wood is THEY KNOW THEY DON’T KNOW HOW TO FLY.

“They go down.  They get up in the morning.  They live very inexpensively.  They have no government grants.  They haven’t applied for anything.  This is all on their own money.  And so they live very frugally in a little shack.  They get up in the morning, fix coffee.  They go out and they crash.  And they stop and try to figure out what went wrong.  They fix the plane and they try again.  And they crash.

Wings

Newt tells the story of the Wright Brothers while in an aircraft hangar – jaj

“Callista and I were very fortunate.  We were at Orville Wright’s home a couple weeks ago.  The curator said to us: The best estimate is that they had 500 experiments that failed.  And you can imagine the congressional hearings…”

The crowd breaks into laughter.

“…because frankly, the modern political governmental system—and I’m going to use a very strong word—is just plain stupid.”

A man in the crowd blurts out: ‘That’s right.’  And face it—everybody knows it’s true.  But Newt takes a lot of heat for comments like that.  It’s not PC.  It’s the reason so many hate him.  And it’s the reason many find him so appealing at a personal level.  I recall Tom Clancy’s portrayal of his hero Jack Ryan when he ascends to the White House.  In that novel, his advisors cringe when he speaks because he doesn’t follow the teleprompter and the things he says seem politically wrong.  Then Clancy reveals the reaction of political leaders around the world.  For example, the Indian Prime Minister thinks he shows weakness but the Japanese say, ‘He is Samurai.’

The Press

The Press – jaj

Newt goes on:  “And I’ve been trying to figure out for the last several months how to get this across clearly to the American people.  You need visionaries.  Without vision, the people perish.  You need somebody who understands that you get to these aircraft by starting.  And you start somewhere with something that doesn’t look very big and isn’t very effective.

“The Wright Brothers keep trying and on December 17th, 1903 they crash four times.  The fifth time, they fly for 53 seconds.  The first powered flight in human history.  Two Americans from Ohio in North Carolina.

“By the way, the first flight was shorter than the wingspan of a Boing 747 and slow enough that the one brother ran along next to the wing of the plane to make sure it didn’t flip over and kill his brother.”

That draws a lot of mirth from the audience.

Newt raises his voice.  “Now here’s what makes this a miracle.  Because they’ve now discovered the principle, by 1907 they fly around the island of Manhattan and one and one-half million people see an airplane for the first time.  Three and a half years—that’s how fast they changed—BECAUSE THEY’D BROKEN THROUGH.”

He taps the podium with a finger.  “Here’s what makes it a fascinating story: The Wright Brothers knew that they had to build a very light engine because they had to build a very light plane.  And so they actually invented an engine.  They had a number of patents.  And these were very smart people working very hard.  This is their hobby—this is not how they’re earning a living.

“By the way, the estimate by the curator at Orville Wright’s house is that their total spending was $500.  Now, that’s back when money was a lot more valuable than it is today, so let’s say they spent a half a million—but in them-year-dollars they spent $500.

Crowded Hangar

Crowded Hangar – jaj

“The Smithsonian—the greatest scientific center in the United States at that time—gave a $50,000 grant.  The Smithsonian had really smart scientists who didn’t know the number-one thing that the Wright Brothers knew.  THE WRIGHT BROTHERS KNEW THEY DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO FLY.  THE SMITHSONIAN THOUGHT THEY DID.

“And so the Smithsonian went out to Germans for metallurgy and built a really powerful engine.  Now the problem with a very powerful engine is that it’s heavy.  And that means that you have to have a real heavy airplane.  And they didn’t want to go all the way to Kitty Hawk.  They were in Washington DC.  It was very inconvenient to go to Kitty Hawk.  So they tried to find a new innovative way to get wind speed.  And they invented something we still use—the catapult.  Exactly like the nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

“Now there’s a problem because if you’re gonna have a catapult on a boat, you’re gonna launch over water.  So they decided they’d launch over the Potomac.

“Now there’s a double problem:  If you land in water, the impact of the water will break the plane up.  Furthermore, the current of the river will break the plane up.  And when it gets to the bottom and you try to lift it, the process of lifting it will break the plane up.  So you won’t be able to figure out what didn’t work because by the time you get the plane back, nothing will work.

“But they’re very confident because they’re very smart and they have a $50,000 grant and they’ve got lots of degrees.  So they go out and actually invite the press to their very first effort.  Now remember, the Wright Brothers have failed 499 times, but the Smithsonian is so cocky, they’re convinced they’re gonna fly the first time.  And exactly what most of you—I can tell by the look on your faces, you know what’s coming, right?  They get up in the morning; the sun burns the mist off the river.  They get the engine started.  They launch the catapult.  The plane goes straight down the length of the boat and straight into the river.”

The crowd erupts.

“Now they’ve invited the press so you can imagine the press coverage:

“SMITHSONIAN FAILS AT EFFORT TO FLY. 

“PEOPLE CAN’T FLY. 

“WHY ARE THEY WASTING THE TAXPAYER’S MONEY?” 

Newt gets quiet again.  “A little bit later, the Wright Brothers fly for the first time.  It’s covered by one Associated Press reporter in a real small story.  The Smithsonian is so angry that these guys who don’t have any degrees—they don’t have any government grants—they don’t get any money from the Congress—and they’ve invented flying?  Their relationship is so chilly that the Wright Brothers will not give them the original plane for 37 years.”

The audience busts out in laughter and Newt is grinning.  “It’s now at the Air and Space Museum in Washington.”

He pauses.

Story

Newt tells a story  – jaj

“Here’s why I’m telling you this story,” he gestures around the hangar, “because these planes just inspired it.  I want to get back to this innovation point ’cause this is what nobody in Washington and nobody in the elite media seems to get.  The great need in America is for a visionary political leader who understands science and technology applied with conservative principles of constitutional government.  Liberating the American people to discover and invent the future allows us to become more prosperous, more productive, more successful, and safer than any possible bureaucratic system!  And that’s just a fact!” 

The crowd bursts into deafening applause.

“…the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford—these people invented the modern world without bureaucracy!”

Newt waits for the crowd to calm down.

“In that setting, let me tell you about innovation in energy.  Over the last decade, new systems have been developed that enable us to get oil and gas out of rock we couldn’t get oil and gas out of.  Now, with natural gas, if you asked in 2000, they’d have said we have a 7-year supply and we’re gonna have to import liquefied natural gas from the Middle East.  With the new breakthroughs and new innovation, we now have a 125 year supply, and we’re about to start exporting liquefied natural gas to China. …natural gas will add 600,000 jobs in the next decade.

“Now it turns out that the same capabilities apply to oil in North Dakota, where it’s on private land…has led to the following development:  Fifteen years ago, we thought we had 150 million barrels of recoverable oil in North Dakota.  Up until the middle of last week, I said we now had discovered something like 4 billion barrels of recoverable oil.  Now we believe we have something on the order of 24 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

“Here’s the real kicker.  They believe that with two more generations of technology, there are 500 billion barrels of oil.  They’re very deep, so we don’t currently have the technology to get ‘em.

“I’m describing North Dakota.”

He pauses again and I think about the magnitude of those numbers—in a single state.

Newt raises his voice.  “They talk about releasing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and this is nonsense.  We have two strategic petroleum reserves in the Unites States.  One is the ingenuity of the American people and the other is called Alaska!”  The crowd breaks into applause. 

After the pandemonium subsides, he shifts gears.

“By the way, in North Dakota—for those of you who care about the economy—their current unemployment rate is 3.5%.” 

His speech continues to build on that story and highlight specific political objectives.  That’s a subject for a different journal than this one.  You can find that in any newspaper–they stress politics and only politics.  My goal here is to bring out the broader insights about entrepreneurship and demonstrate his use of STORY.

After he concludes his remarks, Newt and his wife, Callista greet the visitors.  They each pose with me for a personal photo.  Nice.  I hang around and talk politics with friends.

Press

Associated Press photographer – jaj

A reporter from the Northwest Herald interviews me at length and I give him everything I can.  A sweet schoolteacher proudly tells the reporter that she taught my son and I feel mellow and happy.  That March 16th newspaper article sticks to the political side of the speech and uses only a few of my comments.  You can find it at http://www.nwherald.com/2012/03/15/gingrich-talks-gas-prices-jobs-at-lith-rally/ar6mc4u/?page=1 

And I’m struck by the bold frankness of this candidate.  Not your typical politician.  I can see why he makes so many people angry.  He’s highly intelligent.  He says what he believes—bold and clear.  And whatever your political leanings, whether you like him or not—admit it—you admire that in a man. 

In his simple story he’s made everybody in this airplane hangar understand what really makes entrepreneurship and this country work.  I know a lot of venture capitalists and I respect what they do, but who is that other candidate that trumpets speculation as if it were macroeconomic wisdom?  Today’s story brings out deeper, more fundamental truths than that.  I’m left with a very specific and uplifting view of what is possible—within our reach if we can muster the will to grab it.  And I heard all that in an aircraft hangar, in the suburbs of Chicago, the new, growing center for thought leadership.

And I find this job has it’s perks.

Newt and Callista Gingrich with John Jonelis

Newt and Callista Gingrich with John Jonelis

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HERE’S A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE:

TED – SIMON SINEC ON THE WRIGHT BROTHERS, DR MARTIN LUTHER KING, AND APPLE

Comments on the Gingrich article started to get shrill until one turned me onto this:  I’ve appended a TED video of thought leader Simon Sinek that makes exactly the same point about the Wright Brother’s  but comes at it from an entirely different persepective.  In this video, he makes the same concepts stick with Dr. Martin Luther King and Apple Computer.  The video is absolutely riveting.   Kick back and enjoy!

Simon Sinek is the author of “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,”  He writes for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Business Week and others.  He joined the Rand Corporation in 2010.

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View TED video–Simon Sinek – How Great Leaders Inspire Action

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Simon Sinek

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GO TO PART 2 – FIVE KEYS TO BIG FISH AND INVENTION

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Find Chicago Venture Magazine at
www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com
Comments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.

© 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved.

67 Comments

Filed under Entrepreneurship and Politics