CNNs Soledad O’Brien Looks at Silicon Valley as the Next Promised Land

Business Motivation for Getting America Back to Work

The Biz Desk
Soledad O’Brien recently hosted her latest “In America” documentary series. This time the focus was on whether Silicon Valley, the hot-bed for technology innovation, is the next Promised Land for African-American entrepreneurs. The program features eight startup companies trying to raise venture capital investments in their businesses.

All the entrepreneurs are modern-day geniuses. But to get to the next level they had to make a:

  1. Change: – Some quit their job, left family behind or relocated to make it happen
  2. Choice:- The living arrangement probably wasn’t their first choice, of being under the same roof
  3. Challenge:- They went through some experiences that could have made them complain.

The same is true in today’s unstable economy. If you’re unemployed, maybe you have to make a change in the short-run to reap some “change” in the long-run. If you’re underemployed maybe you can choose to make a greater difference to raise your value. The challenge is in how you overcome the obstacles.

The Biz Desk invites you to post your comments below or you can send a personal note on Facebook or Twitter to @DocCunningham; on Linkedin to @DOCCommunications.

Work Life
O’Brien got the bug for journalism during a broadcast internship. She took some time-off from her education at Harvard but later returned to complete her studies. Many might remember her from her days as co-anchor on NBC’s Weekend Today. A few years into the assignment her co-host passed away suddenly while covering the Iraq war.

She later went on to become co-anchor for CNNs American Morning before establishing a niche in special news coverage and documentary reports. She’s being tapped again to anchor CNNs morning line-up. O’Brien has received awards too numerous to mention. Her professional accomplishments, probably guided by a statement of purpose, are a story in:

  • Getting in the game
  • Leverage your expertise
  • The right can-do attitude
  • Landing the perfect assignment

O’Brien has taken some issue with the fire-brand, personality-driven style of news coverage that puts “making news” as a priority over reporting the truth.

Life’s Work
In O’Brien’s autobiography “The Next Big Story,” she chronicles her American journey through the land of possibilities. She tells of her bi-racial upbringing and how that has “colored” her life. She remembers having to convince her bosses of the importance of certain stories even though they were not “sexy.”

That was among the first situations that helped to define her life’s work. Her experience covering Hurricane Katrina was also a turning point. It allowed her to see how she could make a lasting impact in the lives of young girls. Her foundation continues to provide scholarship and other mentoring resources.

Street Talk (Social Commentary driving change!)
The Super Committee in Congress has proven what most thought would happen. They weren’t able to agree on deficit reductions to the Federal budget. Each side is blaming the other for falling short. It’s true that automatic cuts will kick-in anyway. But it shows how Congress is out to lunch.

It seems like they’re operating with a “lose-lose” approach to governing. Each side is concerned about its own issue at the expense of the larger issue which is accountability. Who do they think they’re accountable to? Is it to special interest and the campaign money trail, or is it to the American people?

Small Business Saturday is Coming to a Local Store Near You

Business Motivation for Getting America Back to Work

The Biz Desk
Have you seen those ads for Small Business Saturday? It’s a campaign to encourage consumers to support small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. In its second year, the idea is a niche-cousin of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It recently attracted $1 million in investment from FedEx.

The campaign focuses on building:

  1. Awareness: – Getting consumers plugged-in to spending their money on Main Street
  2. Advantage:- Partnering with public, private and civic organizations to create leverage
  3. America:- Giving the economy a boost in areas that need it most.

Whether you’re unemployed, underemployed or self-employed, these tough economic times require that you use your expertise to build awareness and advantage on the job and in the marketplace. If that doesn’t get you going, then just think about how you can use your skills to build America.

The Biz Desk invites you to post your comments below or you can send a personal note on Facebook or Twitter to @DocCunningham; on Linkedin to @DOCCommunications.

Work Life
CNBCs Maria Bartiroma has established herself as the “Queen of Wall Street.” Her financial knowledge and insider access make her an influential player in what’s typically a man’s world. Bartiroma has written three books with the most recent entitled “The Weekend that Changed Wall Street.”

The book gives a layperson’s account of the events leading up to the financial meltdown. Interestingly, it reads like a novel that could easily be describing aspects of the professional journey. To go from Bust to Breakthrough in your career or business, you have to manage:

  • The tension of having “no shame in your game”
  • The confusion regarding your professional intangibles
  • The decision to build a diversified portfolio
  • The vision to raise your passion intensity

If you can handle your career/business with these concerns in mind you’ll be able to look back and write about the week or weekend that changed your professional life.

Life’s Work
Bartiroma got her start as a CNN Business News reporter. After five years she left to join CNBC where today she’s the anchor of Closing Bell. The show airs during the final two hours of Wall Street trading. She’s often credited with being the first journalist to report live from the Stock Exchange floor.

Her major in Journalism and minor in Business in essence make her life’s work about civic economics. She tries to relay civics lessons from her varied business experiences. Bartiroma has made her life’s work the coming-together of her formal training and professional calling.

Street Talk (Social Commentary driving change!)
The holiday season is fast approaching and some retailers are ramping-up. For many, between now and the end of the year they’ll make upwards of 30-40% of their annual revenue. With the current slowdown in the economy, it makes you wonder where people are going to find the money.

A few big-box retailers don’t seem worried. They plan to kickoff Black Friday holiday shopping at Midnight. But is it really that critical that we want to reduce the time spent with family to go shopping? Some will get what they’re looking for and others will get the credit squeeze or freeze coming to them.

President Obama Declares November as National Entrepreneurship Month

Business Motivation for Getting America Back to Work

The Biz Desk
President Obama recently issued a proclamation marking November as National Entrepreneurship Month. Two individuals who are happy about this are Howard Schultz and Alfa Demmellash. Schultz who is Starbucks’ CEO has launched the campaign Demmellash is the founder of the Global Entrepreneurship Week, a grassroots business incubation initiative that’s gone global.

Both campaigns are committed to spawning new economic activity through:

  1. Job Creation: – Small businesses are the economic engine of new jobs in the marketplace
  2. Business Motivation:- It takes more than just an idea to build something from the ground, up
  3. Media Distribution:- They’re connecting with traditional and social media networks.

These efforts are striving to make an impact in local and global commerce. The Starbucks Foundation contributed five million dollars to jumpstart their effort. While Demmellash, an immigrant from Ethiopia, is an example of how the American Dream is not dead.

The Biz Desk invites you to post your comments below or you can send a personal note on Facebook or Twitter to @DocCunningham; on Linkedin to @DOCCommunications.

Work Life
Who knew that people would pay $5 for a cup of coffee? Howard Schultz had a hunch and has turned Starbucks into an international brand. After traveling to Milan Italy in 1983, he was impressed with the popularity of espresso coffee. By 1985 he launched his own company in the U.S. which would later buy Starbucks. Schultz’s story shows how like his coffee, “A Business Connection Can Make Cream Rise to the Top.” This provides a way for you to:

  • Maximize your professional calling
  • Become a shining star
  • Deliver satisfaction guaranteed

Now that he’s built the world’s largest coffee house franchise, Schultz is also working on other aspects of the company’s mission. They include responsible growing practices, caring for the environment and community involvement.

Life’s Work
In 2009, Alfa Demmellash was named among the CNN Heroes of “ordinary people making an extraordinary impact.” Her interest in entrepreneurship was as a result of seeing her mother being underpaid as a seamstress. Her mother had the dress-making skills but didn’t have the business skills.

Demmellash went on to study at Harvard and later started a Venture Capital and Business Incubation company. Much of her life’s work is about preparing small ‘Mom-and-Pops’ type businesses to compete in the mainstream. Having survived on little money growing up in Ethiopia, she focuses her efforts in underserved communities, including immigrants/refugees and other minority groups.

Street Talk (Social Commentary driving change!)
It was recently reported that the world population has reached 7 billion. Seemed like yesterday when we heard it hit 6 billion. The population growth is increasing in leaps and bounds, similar to how technology improvements cut speeds down from seconds to nanoseconds. So how is our human technology doing?

A Grand Jury report indicates that officials at Penn State University allowed young kids to be abused and kept silent. Maybe firing coach Paterno and the President was recognition that their moral compass could do with major fine-tuning. Is our understanding for human decency lagging behind the technology gains?

Elon Musk Sold Paypal to Venture into Space

Business Motivation for Getting America Back to Work

The Biz Desk
Who’ll be the first to land on Mars, China or the U.S.? The answer is another ten to twenty years out. But Elon Musk and Dr. Bernard A. Harris Jr. are two who’d be interested. Spacex, the company founded by Musk has been awarded the contract by NASA to make it happen. Dr. Harris knows about the stars as he was the first African-American Astronaut to walk in space.

No one knows if we’ll be around to see this history-making feat. One thing’s for sure, it’s going to take:

  1. Skill:- This means having more than just a ‘song and a dance’ or wishful thinking
  2. Will:- The motivation to succeed must be fueled by deep determination
  3. Thrill:- The thrill of victory tastes sweeter than the agony of defeats.

The current recession has caused some to stop looking for work. Others think where they are is not where they want to be. Maybe it’s time to use your skill, and will to experience a new thrill. Many success stories have come from people who went from feeling defeated to being celebrated.

The Biz Desk invites you to post your comments below or you can send a personal note on Facebook or Twitter to @DocCunningham; on Linkedin to

Work Life
Elon Musk is not a name many know. But you’ve seen his work before. He saw an opportunity for Internet marketing that led him to merge his tech company into what became Paypal. That company was later sold to eBay, some of the proceeds from which he used to launch Spacex. His success shows how ‘being first across the line or becoming best-in-class’ keeps you:

  • Employed for life
  • Wearing the business hat
  • Boosting your income
  • Experiencing happiness at work

Musk left South Africa as a teenager headed for Canada with little or no money. He believed in his ideas, stayed curious about new opportunities and was committed to a cause. These have taken his achievements to the edge of space, the edge of heaven and maybe even beyond his wildest dreams.

Life’s Work
Dr. Harris has since retired from NASA. He describes his new mission as helping others have the same opportunities he had growing up. His life’s work is focused on motivating youth in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). He wants to make a difference in their education.

Musk may be described as a Social Entrepreneur. He keeps one eye on making a profit and another eye on making a difference. Musk takes on causes that are bigger than just making money.

Street Talk (Social Commentary driving change!)
What’s the difference between the CEO of a company and the CEO of the United States? One depends on sales. The other depends on taxes. It seems more and more politicians are coming out with their own ‘tax plan’ these days. Well, it’s going to take more than that to get our country on the same page.

One CNN Analyst sees the political climate as being more ‘hate than fight.’  A Business Analyst sees it as more about ‘power than purpose.’ We might not agree on everything. But maybe citizens are looking for public and private officials to be leading with more of a sense of calling than a sense of entitlement.