Free Agent Nation: Scented Jeans? ‘Ficks’ a hangover? High-tech bookmark?

Fragrance Jeans

NOTE FROM DR. WAYNE BAKER—This week, we’re spanning generations and perspectives in welcoming guest writers Kathy Macdonald and Miles Grofsorean. In this five-part series, they are reporting on some very creative ideas from entrepreneurs. Here is their third column …

America isn’t the only Free Agent Nation, and today we’re taking you on a quick trip around the world to show you three more products we’d like you to rate—and tell friends (via the blue-”f” Facebook icons or envelope-shaped email icons) if you think these ideas are worth sharing.

Yesterday, we looked at Serviceable ideas. Today, we focus on the second “S”—Seductive ideas.

PORTUGESE FRAGRANCE JEANS?

Portuguese fashion brand, Salsa, has created scented jeans.

The pants, made from a blend of cotton and elastane, are embedded with microcapsules of fragrance. According to the manufacturers’ sales pitch, many jean enthusiasts believe that jeans are best left unwashed to protect their style and texture. Obviously, this can lead to undesirable side effects, which prompted Salsa to develop the product. They claim their fragrances will last up to 20 washes, and you can choose from 5 different scents: apple, blueberry, strawberry, lemon and orange.

CALIFORNIA FICKS HANGOVER RELIEF

Ficks Cocktail fortifierIf scented jeans are designed to keep young people smelling sweet even if they socialize night after night—a California company has created Ficks to take care of another problem associated with too much partying.

It’s a hangover solution, an “all natural cocktail fortifier” that was created in tandem with Fortitech, the company that formulated Vitamin Water. Their products are based on “years of research on scientific studies related to alcohol metabolization, liver health and medical causes of hangovers.”

Even Amazon now sells Ficks and so far the six reviews posted on the product page are voting 2 to 1 in favor of Ficks. There are four 4- and 5-star reviews vs. only two 1- and 2-star reviews; no one is wishy washy about this one—not a single 3-star review.

BRAZILIAN READING REMINDER

Dancing the night away? Worried about hangovers? Well, millions of people aren’t tempted in either direction. In fact, a Brazilian company is launching a small high-tech device that encourages—more reading.

Tweet For a Read is a campaign launched by a Brazil-based Penguin-Companhia publishing house. They recently developed a computerized bookmark with a WiFi-enabled computer, timer and light sensor. When the book is closed, the light sensor sets off the timer. When it’s been too long since you last opened the book, the bookmark (which is linked to your Twitter account) will notify the author’s Twitter account, which in turn will send you a reminder to continue reading the book in question. The tweets are actually pre-written by the author, or are phrases taken from the book you’re reading.

Here’s a short video about this product:

PENGUIN BOOKS | Case Tweet For a Read from Rafael Gonzaga on Vimeo.

Like this idea? Will it succeed? You could help to insure its success simply by telling friends.

PLEASE, leave a comment below—and share this series with friends by clicking on the blue “f” Facebook icons or the small envelope shaped email icons.

Comments: (0)
Categories: Getting AheadHedonism

Free Agent Nation: Patchnride and Soofa, a cool bike tool and a high-tech bench

Soofa developers in a park with their device

That’s no ordinary park bench! It’s a Soofa, a high-tech hub away from home. From left are Soofa’s developers: Sandra Richter, Nan Zhao and Jutta Friedrichs.

NOTE FROM DR. WAYNE BAKER—This week, we’re spanning generations and perspectives in welcoming guest writers Kathy Macdonald and Miles Grofsorean. In this five-part series, they are reporting on some very creative ideas from entrepreneurs. Here is their second column …

We are exploring our new Free Agent Nation, this week by showing you some remarkable products and concepts in three areas where entrepreneurs are bringing new products to market: Serviceable, Seductive and Supportive.

Our question all week: What do you think of these ideas? Will they make it? Think about this: If an idea catches your eye this week, you can make a real difference by simply sharing these columns with friends. Use our email or Facebook icons. Some of these projects just need a handful of people spreading the news. But—that’s only if you like these ideas. This week: You’re the judge.

SOOFA: A PARK BENCH? NO, A POWERFUL HUB

Soofa, a project developed by the Changing Environments spin-off of MIT’s Media Lab, is an outdoor, solar powered bench that charges your phone while giving you information about the surrounding environment. For example, the benches will inform you of the weather forecast and current noise level in the area surrounding that bench. The data is then will be uploaded to the Soofa website for individuals to view. Changing Environment’s founding team created their company to develop small-scale, solar-powered solutions for urban businesses, college campuses, and resorts alike in the form of furniture. Their mission statement: “Our core value is to help cities, campuses, corporations and resorts to update their urban context for the mobile generation.”

The co-founders are three women who share the goal of getting people out of their homes and into a smarter and more sustainable city. “We want to connect people to their city with smart technologies,” says Nan Zhao, co-founder of Changing Environments and PhD candidate at the MIT Media Lab. Her co-founders are Sandra Y. Richter and Jutta Friedrichs. The three women were just invited to be part of a White House-sponsored entrepreneurial fair and they brought one of their units to the big Washington D.C. event.

Like their idea? Will they make it? You could help them simply by telling friends.

PATCHNRIDE: BIKE TIRE BLOWN? NO PROBLEM!

Patchnride bicycle repair kit demoYou can watch the brief Patchnride demonstration video, below. When a nail ruins a bicyclist’s day, this handy little device about the size of a small flashlight saves the day. Or, as the demo guy puts it after he sees the nail: “Well crap! This sucks! But it’s not the end of the world, ’cause I’ve got this little thing!”

Patchnride was formed by a group of cyclists with a passion for the environment. According to the company, there are an estimated 20 million flat tires a year in the United States, most of which end up in landfills. This is because most bicycle tires, when punctured, send millions of bicyclists to a repair shop for replacements. This creates waste—and often costs cyclists around $20-25 per tire. Not to mention the time to take the bike to a repair shop! The technology in Patchnride allows cyclists to permanently repair punctures themselves, saving time and money.

Click the video screen below to watch the brief Patchnride demo. If there’s no video screen in your version of this column, first try clicking on the headline and reloading the column. Still no video? You also can find the demo on YouTube.

Like this idea? Will it succeed? You could help to insure its success simply by telling friends.

PLEASE, leave a comment below—and share this series with friends by clicking on the blue “f” Facebook icons or the small envelope shaped email icons.

Comments: (0)
Categories: Uncategorized

Free Agent Nation: Is your business serviceable? Seductive? Supportive?

Cover Free Agent Nation Daniel Pink

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

NOTE FROM DR. WAYNE BAKER—This week, we’re spanning generations and perspectives in welcoming guest writers Kathy Macdonald, president of The Macdonald Group with four decades of helping organizations through changes, and Miles Grofsorean, a junior at the University of Michigan, facing career decisions that will shape his working life for decades to come. We will all have fun this week as they show us some very creative ideas from entrepreneurs. Here is their first column …

Microsoft just announced 18,000 layoffs, about 14% of its full-time workforce. It wasn’t long ago that a high-tech job at a place like Microsoft was the ticket to a secure future for hopeful Millennial men and women—not unlike how Boomers once imagined a job at one of the big domestic auto companies several decades ago. For a growing number of workers, the Fortune 500 no longer holds much appeal in terms of long-term job security.

When Daniel Pink described the start of this revolution in his still-popular book, Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself, he advised readers: The job-hopping, tech-savvy, self-reliant, independent worker is transforming America as these workers choose to sell their services individually or in creative new businesses. Many of these “free agents” are providing goods and services that earlier generations earlier could not have imagined.

“Power is devolving from the organization to the individual. The individual, not the organization, has become the economy’s fundamental unit,” Pink wrote.

The turmoil of this past recession has only sped up this transformation. For many, finding employment has become increasingly difficult. More and more people have shifted from finding a job to banding together and creating one. This is a trend found across generations from the Boomers who have given up looking for work to Millennials who have found entry-level jobs too few and too competitive—and are shunning the corporate world in favor of creating their own new ventures.

These new Free Agents are everywhere. Check out the local strip malls or the second floor offices on any Main Street in America. They work from home, they work in shared office spaces, and of course, in your local coffee shop.

What evidence have you seen of these new ventures in your area? Have you started one? Tell us about it.

Join us all this week as we take a look at these new ventures. We’ll look at three types: the serviceable, the seductive, and the supportive.

Each day we will ask you to judge: Are you interested in these ideas? Will they make it? Or not?

PLEASE, leave a comment below—and share this series with friends by clicking on the blue “f” Facebook icons or the small envelope shaped email icons. This is a great time to invite friends along for this intriguing series. Tuesday: We’ll show you a cool new bicycle tool—and a high-tech park bench!

Comments: (1)
Categories: Uncategorized

Change of Heart: The real crisis churches face.

2014-Pew-research-chart-on-LGBT-issue-as-a-factor-in-leaving-religious-groups

Click on this chart to read the entire 2014 report from the Public Religion Research Institute.

Christian leaders defending a traditional ban on homosexuality often say that the future of the church is threatened by any softening of the anti-gay wall that encircles thousands of American churches. But leading researchers—including a self-proclaimed supporter of evangelical Christianity, George Barna—say the real crisis is the widespread impression among millions of young adults that churches are hateful organizations persecuting their gay and lesbian friends and relatives.

The most helpful chart displaying these findings, at a glance, comes from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), a highly respected center for research on religion in America. The chart appears, above, and you also can visit PRRI’s website to read the entire report. But evangelicals tend to discount such polling as irrelevant.

From the heart of the American evangelical community, though, comes the work of pollster George Barna, who is such a strong supporter of this faith group that he describes his work as “facilitating a spiritual and moral revolution.” By all accounts, his Barna Group research follows accepted standards for polling but the signature style in Barna’s columns and books is interpreting the news from an evangelical perspective.

That’s why it was so startling in 2009 to read about Barna’s research, after interviewing a sample group of homosexuals that “27 percent met the ‘born again’ criteria we use.” That finding may not be “startling” to most readers—but it was explosive news to Barna’s evangelical base. In fact, Barna says now that he was shocked by the response from his audience.

In 2010, Barna wrote, “The reaction to that finding was shockingly hateful–not everyone who wrote to or called us responded in that manner, of course, but an amazingly large share of the notes that came in were venomous. A number of emails questioned my faith and salvation. Several outright condemned me and denied the possibility that I am a follower of Christ. I am used to being challenged and am comfortable with debates about how we apply our faith, but the hostility quotient broke the meter after that release.”

He concluded, “After that experience it has been much easier for me to understand the distaste so many gays have for the Christian body – and why so many young adults who are not gay have gone to great lengths to distance themselves from the conservative Christian juggernaut.”

For more than a decade, Barna has been studying trends in Christian attitudes toward what Barna now calls “LGBTQ Rights.” In Barna’s latest overall report on these trends, in 2013, the polling firm concludes that American Christianity is nearing a historic tipping point. The group Barna calls “Practicing Christians under 40” has moved significantly toward favoring “changing laws to enable more freedom for the LGBTQ community” from 34 percent in 2003 to 46 percent in 2013. Lagging behind them are “Practicing Christians over 40,” who have moved from 23 percent approval across the decade to 32 percent approval in 2013.

Barna now regularly warns church leaders that anti-gay attitudes are hurting Christianity in America.

What do you think of George Barna’s experience?

Do you agree with these findings and Barna’s warning to churches?

Comments: (1)
Categories: Equal OpportunitiesFreedom

Change of Heart: Who is teaching Americans about gay marriage?

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia on magazine covers“She has been out for so long that it is no longer an issue—and older white women feel comfortable with her show. She normalizes LGBT people.” That’s one way a Pew research report summarizes Ellen DeGeneres’s influence across America.

Legalization of same-sex marriage seems inevitable, large majorities of Americans say in recent polls. This interactive map provided by Pew shows how big clusters of states that have legalized gay marriage are pressing across the U.S. from East and West coasts and the Midwest in mid 2014. But, you can re-set the Pew map to show the status in earlier years. Flip the date back to 2002 and you’ll see: Not one state allowed same-sex marriage.

Americans have had to adjust to this change at lightening speed. Research and media reports conclude: America’s most reliable, friendly, funny guide through this era of cultural change is—Ellen.

There’s no question that Ellen is the most famous gay American, Pew concludes in one study. Since she came out in 1997, Americans have watched her fall in love, mature in her relationships and get married to her partner Portia. Magazine cover stories and TV celebrity shows also have shown Ellen stumbling, problems arise in her marriage—and, this week, on the cover of Closer magazine Americans are watching them come through marriage counseling to renew their vows.

Pew concludes: “More than anyone else, Ellen DeGeneres is the face of LGBT America. Still. That’s the verdict of two new Pew Research Center surveys, one of the general U.S. population and the other of LGBT Americans specifically.

“Not only was the comedian and television host by far the most frequently cited example of a gay or lesbian public figure in the general-population survey, she and President Obama were the leaders when LGBT Americans were asked to name a well-known figure who’s been important in advancing the rights of LGBT people.”

When Ellen first came out, the public backlash reportedly sent her deep into depression for a time. But the multi-talented star quickly recovered. Today, she ranks No. 46 on the new Forbes list of the world’s most powerful women. She also ranks No. 17 on Forbes’s list of “richest women in entertainment.”

Forbes reports: “Daytime’s most likable TV personality—at least according to industry-standard Q scores—keeps dancing her way up our list. She managed to set two records within 24 hours this year: first, the now-famous ‘selfie’ photo she took with a handful of A-list celebs as she hosted the Oscars became the most re-tweeted Twitter post in history—a record previously held by President Obama. The live post-Oscars episode of her popular syndicated talk show the following day became the most-watched in the program’s 11 years on air. Aside from the ratings success of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the 56-year-old CoverGirl is beefing up her producing roster. Her production company is working on pilots for the CW and NBC, and cable network HGTV will air a DeGeneres-produced design competition series next year.”

So, what do you think of Ellen?

Are there other important men or women who’ve taught you about gay relationships?

Comments: (0)
Categories: Equal OpportunitiesFreedom

Change of Heart: Dramatic Change in the World’s Largest Church

Country by Country comparison of LGBT attitudes

Click this chart to read Pew’s entire report on “The Global Divide on Homosexuality”

The Catholic church often is cited in the debate over religious inclusion of LGBT men and women—even by evangelical leaders who not too many decades ago had no interest in working with Catholic allies. Critics of same-sex marriage often point out: The Catholic church will never allow it. And veteran Vatican watchers agree that an official blessing on gay marriage seems unlikely. Among the key reasons that the Vatican is central to this debate:

  • IT’S OLD AND BIG—The Catholic church is widely viewed as the world’s oldest Christian denomination and it certainly is the world’s largest organized religious group. The Vatican claims that more than a billion of the world’s men, women and children are Catholic, a group that represents half of all Christians on the planet. The Roman Catholic church is about the same size as Islam, which is not a single organized religious group.
  • MORE TRADITIONAL THAN PROTESTANTS—Catholic tradition and Vatican doctrine view marriage as a sacrament, setting the theological bar for change very high, while most mainline Protestants do not call the rite of marriage a sacrament. In fact, Catholic doctrine views marriage in a much more restrictive way than American Protestants. For example, divorced Catholics still are unable to remarry in the church without first going through a lengthy annulment process, discounting the authenticity of their earlier marriage. American Protestant churches have jumped past the biblical debate on remarriage after divorce and no longer regard the practice as controversial.
  • WEIGHT OF AFRICA—The Catholic church is growing by leaps and bounds in Africa, home to some of the world’s most anti-gay ethnic cultures.
  • POLITICAL FUNDING—The Catholic hierarchy has significant funds, at the discretion of regional bishops, that can be poured into anti-gay-rights campaigns.

HOWEVER, there is, indeed, dramatic change in the world’s largest church. Across several continents, the world’s Catholic population already is supporting LGBT inclusion in general—and a large portion of the church’s membership supports gay marriages or unions.

The chart with today’s story clearly shows the majorities in many of the world’s most populous Catholic countries supporting acceptance of gay men and women. This chart does not single out Catholic respondents, but a growing body of research does just that after extensive polling of Catholics.

The most complete to date is a Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) report in 2011, drawing on surveys and other research in 2009 and 2010. If anything, this PRRI report understates the widespread Catholic support for LGBT inclusion. All other nationwide research on this issue shows American attitudes shifting to approve same-gender marriage in the last couple of years. Part 2 in this series shows Pew’s 2014 polling with 59 percent of Catholics approving of allowing such marriages.

The PRRI study found that Catholics have widely accepted their church’s call for compassion toward marginalized groups. The PRRI report concludes: “Catholics strongly believe that society should accept gay and lesbian relationships. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) agree that gay and lesbian relationships should be accepted by society. One in four disagree, but less than 1-in-10 (9 percent) say that they completely disagree. Among the general public, roughly 6 in 10 (62 percent) say that gay and lesbian relationships should be accepted by society, 12 points lower than support among Catholics.”

Are you surprised that Catholics are a leading group in many nations, urging LGBT inclusion?

Do you think the church’s leadership would ever consider changing church doctrine on marriage?

Comments: (0)
Categories: Equal OpportunitiesFreedom

Change of Heart: Which religious groups are welcoming gay marriage?

Pew chart of change toward gays in American churches

CLICK this chart to visit the Pew website and read the entire report.

PEW research, published in the spring of 2014, concludes that America has flipped on gay marriage.

“In Pew Research polling in 2001, Americans opposed same-sex marriage by a 57% to 35% margin,” Pew reports. “Since then, support for same-sex marriage has steadily grown. Today, a majority of Americans (54%) support same-sex marriage, compared with 39% who oppose it.”

Because the United States is distinctive among the world’s nations for the intensity of religion in our culture, this also means that the vast majority of Americans identify with religious groups. As “Americans” change attitudes on any issue, by definition, it means the members of America’s religious groups are changing their attitudes. That’s different than saying official church policies are changing, but the trend is powerful, Pew concludes.

Within that larger change, Pew finds:

  • AGE MATTERS—A majority of younger Americans, people who are under 30 now, have approved of gay marriage for more than a decade. Clearly, the cultural shift is driven by a dramatic generational change in attitudes.
  • POLITICAL AFFILIATION MATTERS—Not surprisingly, more conservative Americans are drawn to the Republican party. What is striking in Pew’s new report is the growing gap between Republicans and Democrats on this issue. In 2001, the parties were separated by 22 percentage points on this issue (with 21 percent of Republicans approving vs. 43 percent of Democrats). Now, the gap is 35 percentage points! (32 vs. 67 percent).
  • RACE MATTERS—As Americans have read in headlines nationwide, many black church leaders oppose same-sex marriage and black communities are resisting the idea that gay rights is an extension of the civil rights movement. Pew reports that an 11-point gap has emerged between white and black Americans on this issue (54 percent of white Americans now approving vs. 43 percent of black Americans).
  • GENDER MATTERS—Women always have been more sympathetic toward gay marriage. From 2001 to today, women as a group have been 6 to 10 percentage points more approving than men.

What do you see in these trends?

Why do these factors matter so much? For example, why are women more approving?

COMING WEDNESDAY: Dramatic change in the world’s largest church.

Comments: (1)
Categories: Equal OpportunitiesFreedom