Friday, May 30, 2008

Laptops/My $1 Wager

My friend Ken doubts we can do it - he isn't very positive about Laptop South Florida, Waveplace, or OLPC.

He has a good point. Ken argues that dedicated parents produce children who do well in school and in life, and that bad parents don't: those kids are screwed, and no laptop computer or creative, challenging courseware is going to change that.

I've heard this before, and it's true - to an extent. Studies show again and again the strong correlation between parental influence and the success or failure of a child. If we want the kids to make something of their lives, we have to change the parents. Period. Until we do that, we're wasting our time and resources.

I refuse to buckle in to this line of reasoning. If the odds are drastically stacked against many poor children because their parents each work three jobs and have ten kids, or because one is gone and the other is a crack-whore, or because they simply do not value education and have subterranean expectations for their progeny... so what? Are we going to just throw these young lives away?

Perhaps we should incarcerate them all now, before they turn ten. Think of all the crimes we'd prevent.

As a moral society, and as moral individuals, we cannot give up on these children. Not even the most hopeless among them.

My near-obsession is to help the worst of the worst-off children, the ones with the crappiest parents and worst prognoses, to make it anyway. I want to make sure that they get the education they deserve, are inculcated with the values they need to prosper educationally, economically, and morally.

I take Ken's pronouncement as a challenge. So I bet him $1 that he's wrong.* We each gave a third pal, Andy, our dollar. When these fourth-graders graduate from high school Andy will award that $2 to one of us. If our 42 kids in the pilots this summer graduate at 50% or worse, as is now the case in Immokalee, Ken is up two bucks. If we beat that by at least 10%, I win.

I will win this bet.

Here's why: because it isn't up to just me. We have a terrific core of believers assembled. All sorts of talented people are lining up to help us with this project. And the kids themselves are going to run with it, too. This is far bigger than any one of us.

*I always wager $1, never more. If you've seen the movie Trading Places, you'll know what inspires this.

A Tragic Loss

Mary Ann Durso, the driving force behind this nation's #1 local Habitat for Humanity organization (right here in Collier County) died yesterday.

I never met Mary Ann in person, though we've spoken on the phone several times. She was lively, gracious, and inspirational - just talking to her got me fired up to redouble my own efforts to help the community, a feeling that would stay with me for hours after I put down the phone.

I had meant to interview her, when I got around to it, as a Neapolitan of Note for our e-newsletter and for e Bella Magazine. Clearly, I'll never get around to it now. I blew my chance.

This community has lost a tremendous friend and servant to those in need. Mary Ann Durso will be sorely missed.

To read more about this remarkable lady:

My Friends

I relish the company of friends whose opinions differ from my own. I'm not being facetious. You see, I already know what I think and why. I'm much more interested in what other, possibly better-informed or more-intelligent, folks have to say.

When I'm with friends who are either more liberal or more conservative than I, or more pessimistic or cautious, for that matter, it gives me the chance to strengthen my arguments or to change my views - something I am happy to do (though that may surprise those of you who know how strongly I feel about... well, about most things.)

I had the unparallelled luck a while back to fall in with perhaps the most intelligent, informed, and delightfully quirky bunch of Friends I've ever had. These are the leaders of CFI Naples, my "philosopher's club." We break bread together once or twice a week, and talk about anything at all - many of my recent entries in this blog were inspired by live and online conversations with this crew. The discussions can range far and they can heat up pretty quickly. I enjoy every minute of each one!

If you do one thing next month, join us for the general CFI meeting/discussion on Tuesday, June 10th at 6:30 pm - more details can be found on the calendar at

CFI's monthly meetings provide arguably the most lively and interesting discussion in Greater Naples. Conservatives, liberals, believers and doubters, and all in between enjoy exploring some of the day's most controversial topics in a respectful, collegial atmosphere. Check your dogma at the door but please, bring your curiosity and zeal for reason!

Thursday, May 29, 2008


From Today's Boston Globe:

The One Laptop Per Child Foundation has landed an order for 65,000 of its low-cost XO laptop computers from the state of Caldas in Colombia. The state government will take delivery of at least 15,000 machines this year, with the rest to be shipped by the end of 2009. Each laptop costs $188, making the deal worth more than $12 million. The Cambridge-based foundation sells its XO laptops mainly to governments in developing countries where they are given free to children. (Hiawatha Bray)

We're part of something huge - and it's just beginning.


I hope I don't sound too much like a Pollyanna when I say that, looking back with the detachment of history, future generations may very well wonder what the American people were ever concerned about when we fretted over keeping our global prominence.

Japan scared the daylights out of us in the 80s and early 90s, but we don't utter a peep about them anymore. (Although it's interesting to note that they're still not far behind us at productivity, GDP, etc.).

Now we're just as fearful of China. On one hand, it's easy to see why, as they're growing at such a mind-boggling pace. But legions of their people still starve to death every day - starve, as in die of empty bellies! How can a nation in such straights maintain its self for long? China's competitive edge is propped up by an artificially-weakened currency and cheap labor, which is already rising in price and fueling transfer of jobs to less expensive nations such as Vietnam. And corruption is so endemic in China that it's hard to argue that they have the #1 guarantor of economic success, the rule of law.

Of course, we could also fret over the EU's new prominence if we choose. Maybe, if something happens in China's economy, that will be our next hobgoblin.

Here's the part I find fascinating about American culture, though: our entire history, about 400 years worth, is the story of simultaneous decline and rejuvenation. Yes, we have life-sapping American Idolatry, lazy, uneducated, pierced twenty-somethings, and rampant teen parenting. These factors are degenerating our society - they are, without a doubt in my mind!

But at the same time there are plenty of kids who are starting businesses, dedicating themselves to philanthropy; getting advanced degrees. I just met yesterday with a 30-year-old who, all by himself, is compensating for 20 slackers. It's hard to be a pessimist after an hour with a guy like that.

This country continually regenerates its self. America remains the most vibrant culture ever. And it will as long as enough of us care to ask the question, "Is this country in trouble?" I don't think that question will ever go away.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More on Education Reform

The following is an elaboration of an entry from Tuesday, May 27th on this same topic.

My ideas for education reform are based strongly on personal experience, both as a former student and as the owner of a private language school. Here are some thoughts:

Teacher & School Quality

* As a nation, a state; a county, why would we ever even consider scrimping on education because of expense, as we do now? We don't do that with national defense! And isn't education national defense? It is our competitive edge. After our physical safety, what is more important to the life and prosperity of our republic?

* The quality of the teacher is the only thing that matters at all in education - assuming he/she isn't hobbled by arduous and bad curricula or working in an over-crowded classroom.

* Florida is ranked 35th in the nation -actually a big improvement over 48th just a few years ago. But here's my question: why aren't we copying the #1 (VA) and #2 (CT) states in every manner possible? Those states pay teachers much more than Florida, and it is very hard for even the most qualified candidates to land a position in either state.

* The PACE Center for Girls in Immokalee operates at about $10k/student, with tiny little classes, a very small student population, and kids who are admittedly the dregs of the Immokalee school system: these girls go to PACE because they have been kicked out of public school, have dropped out, or are in danger of one or both. Yet nearly all of them graduate, and most go on to college. Meanwhile, our county spends about $7,500/student, and look at the results. The drop-out rate in Immokalee is 50%. For an additional $2,500 per kid, we could have them all in PACE-like schools, county-wide.

Teacher Pay

* If you want the best teachers, you have to pay for them - same as any other career. Would you go to a surgeon who made $35,000 a year? Yes, there are some truly gifted teachers who perform their jobs despite the pay. But my ambition for our schools is to have the very-most talented graduates go first into teaching, if they can get the work; those left over will have to settle for law, medicine, business, etc. Then, two years later, 90% of these stars will go into the general work force, so those other fields will not have to suffer their absence for long.

* The going rate for ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers in Greater Boston is $15/hour (at Berlitz it's $8/hour). Coiné Language School pays $50/hour. Yes, Jane and I are do-gooders - I think that's pretty well-established. But Enlightened Self-Interest dictated this decision. It allows us to poach the very best teachers at will from the very best schools in the area (and thus in the world, as Boston is a global center for private ESL). Part of the reason we can recruit those teaching super-stars is the money, sure, but the other part is the respect that differential in pay shows these teachers. Good teachers get the results our corporate clients demand, and those clients then refer us to their peers. It's just savvy business.

Class Size

* There are courses in which knowledge can be passed down en masse, lecture-style. I honestly believe that a student will benefit more from a book and some spare time to read it. Indeed, at William & Mary a number of my professors were eminent scholars with acclaimed books and ground-breaking studies under their belts - and many of them were grossly incompetent at the art of teaching. I chose philosophy as my major because the professors taught better, plain and simple. The discipline fascinated me, sure, but so did a number of other subjects - English, history, sociology; psychology (my minor). (Side-note: W&M's philosophy department, with its talented teachers, is always ranked at or near the top nationally. Coincidence?)

* We guarantee our results at our language school - but only if the class has 8 students or fewer. This is based on my 12 years of experience with real, live classes: each time you add a student after 8, learning slows down perceptibly. So you can quote all the studies you like about class size and results, but... good luck convincing me. My opinion is based on experience and results.

Trimming Fat

* I think we have many-too-many administrators in our schools and our school systems. The money we could save by eliminating their jobs - most of which pay more than teaching posts, sadly - would make up part of the extra expenses you mention.

* One of my 11 points is on kids doing maintenance. That would save more money now paid to janitors (who, by the way, deserve thoughtful, dedicated out-placement: this is a current concern right here in our county, and I'm sympathetic to their situation).

Laptop Talk next Tuesday

The story on "60 Minutes:"

Join me next Tuesday, June 3 at 6:00 pm at the Naples YMCA (Pine Ridge just east of Airport Pulling Rd.). I will be leading an information session on "Laptop South Florida - What is it? and How you can get involved."

See ya there!

Ethical Investing

I find this article fascinating: This is Capitalism 2.0 in the flesh - something I didn't invent (sadly), but that I preach actively now as a business consultant. Our global economy is transforming, and I think it's a wonderful thing.

...Now let me play my own Devil's Advocate: (a) This is England. Those people still live in trees, from what I understand (never been there myself). London may be the new leader in international banking, but the rest of the UK economy has a lot to learn from ours. (b) These are teenagers. They'll out-grow it; this is just a phase. (c) They won't work for unethical companies? Good for those companies! Have you managed a person under 25 lately?

All of that is fair: the British economy doesn't exactly set our trends. Kids do indeed get more practical and less idealistic as they mature. And how much influence do you really think these kids will have on their parents' investments? But it still heartens me. It indicates a trend.

As top brass at Johnson & Johnson dubbed it in the '50s, this will motivate Enlightened Self-Interest: companies will start to cater to this trend, and the world will benefit.

Your thoughts on this matter are most appreciated.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Wow, that was a quick response! I shared my latest missive (below) with some friends, and one replied with the link to this editorial in The New York Times by Thomas Friedman, author of The World Is Flat (which I highly, highly recommend).

Prescription for Education

Here's my abbreviated prescription for our nation's public schools:

1. Teacher starting salary $80 k.
2. Teachers are hired with the expectation that they will serve only two years. Discharge them honorably with tuition to grad school.
3. The best 10% of teachers make it past those first 2 years. That will build in experience and mentoring.
4. No education classes recognized: content or nothing.
5. Maximum class size 12 students.
6. Standardized testing: AP exams, period.
7. Mandatory daily sports.
8. Mandatory daily chores (no maintenance staff).
9. Honor system strictly enforced.
10. Maximum school size 150 students.
11. 3 Rs + E: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Entrepreneurialism. ...For EVERY kid!

As I said, that's just a start. As the saying goes, "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance!"

Some day soon, I'll get my hands on a charter school. Look out World!

PS - A link to the prep. school that literally changed my life. I can't stress that enough; it is impossible for me to exaggerate (try as I may). When the day comes for said charter school of my own, I plan to copy just as much as I possibly can from the Wooster School:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Laptops/Give One, Get One is back!

Two important developments on the laptop story. Read the article below to learn more:;_hbguid=52e1c791-3db3-4f3d-a478-0f2eade2125e

Right to Bear Arms and Shoot Our Friends

Another spirited debate among the leaders of CFI Naples, which Jane calls my "Philosophy Club." Here I weigh in on the Second Amendment:

The Bill of Rights was written, it seems, with the intention of obscurity, perhaps to keep it a living document rather than a set of dictates that we genuflect to without thought. Still, the Second Amendment is particularly confounding to all of us.

There is "the right to bear arms" part, which seems clear enough until you consider which arms: all arms, including automatic weapons? Grenade launchers? Rocket launchers? Surface-to-air missiles?

Then there is the "in a well-regulated militia" phrase. Do we just ignore that part? If I buy a gun, can I declare myself a militia of one? Is a local gun club a militia? Or did the Founders perhaps mean something very well-regulated, like the National Guard? It seems that we have 50 very well-regulated militias.

Perhaps the ACLU considers the NRA to be doing a fine job of protecting our right to bear arms. As the second largest and best-funded lobby after AARP, I think that's the case.

I've got to weigh in as a moderate here, which is never very exciting. If I were the victim of a violent crime, I would want to carry a gun for my own sense of security. For that reason, I'm glad to have that right. On the other hand, if we regulated our gun position even a little bit better in this country, perhaps we'd be a lot safer. How many kids die fooling around with Dad's bed-side pistol each year? One is too many, but I think it's more than one. How many drunks kill friends with a .38-special every Saturday night at pool halls across the country?

I don't think guns are inherently dangerous. If you look at Switzerland, every single male aged 18 to about 60 is required to have a working military rifle in his home. The magazines are shrink-wrapped, though, and regular inspections ensure that anyone who opens their magazine's protective wrapping is sent to jail. Perhaps this is a closer definition of "well-regulated" than what we see in the US.

Have you seen Bowling for Columbine? The interview of Charlton Heston is... well, I'll never watch Planet of the Apes and The Ten Commandments in the same way again. It's hard to support the NRA after that scene, even if you aren't a big Michael Moore fan.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I see this as a possible way out of our current oil and global-warming woes without inviting economic ruin:

(a) We have the technology today to build fuel-efficient vehicles, the (ugly little) Prius being one of many. High gas prices are inspiring more consumers to purchase compact cars (25% of new sales last month) - let's hope that trend increases. This won't hurt any auto manufacturers one bit, and no one has to pass a law - as an ardent capitalist, I love it!

I think it's in our national interest to spur this along, though. Right now, today, we could close the small truck/SUV tax loophole and set minimum fuel standards that would be rewarded with tax breaks. Thus, if you want a Prius, you save money; if you still want a Navigator, good for you - please pay Uncle Sam a $5,000 fee for this luxury.

(b) Let's try nuclear power again on a large scale. I think it beats the alternative. Hopefully, we'll develop a way to "disarm" the toxic waste later.

(c) Let's give tax incentives to those who purchase green alternatives such as "Al Gore light bulbs" for the home and office, solar panels where they make sense weather-wise, etc. etc.

(d) Let's pour tax-money and private capital into R&D for green technology. If thousands of entrepreneurs across the country are encouraged to start small companies to solve some of these environmental problems... hey, isn't that fostering the ingenuity and drive that has kept this country great for 400 years?

Instead of coercion, let's try incentive. I'll bet we'll get much farther.

By the way: A few months ago, Jeanmarie Hendry (of The Naples Institute) took me to a building site in Bonita - poor folks buying their first homes, which were "green" houses. The technology was simple, available today, and in several cases (like the smaller air-conditioning units) LESS expensive than the typical alternatives - indeed, a number of the solutions were merely in design, not materials, like running the air ducts at chest-level instead of up high where the hot air of the room & roof heats the cooled air on its way into the room. There's no reason every private builder couldn't incorporate those ideas into their new homes without losing whatever price-advantage they enjoy today. They would be prompted to do this with tax incentives. Again, let's inspire through benefits, not penalties.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


The most important consideration is that we are actively working with the Sherriff's Dept. - their head of IT & cyber crimes now has one of the computers, which he is checking out - and NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) is actively engaged in this program. Amelia at NCMEC will be joining us the very first day of the program (June 9th) to certify the kids in an online safety program, and she will be back to work with us every time we have a new batch of children. Safety online comes through education, and (as a father of two young girls), that is of paramount importance.

...Along those lines, it is important to realize that many cell phones now enable Internet access. So the question isn't, "Will these children be going online?" but, "Will they know how to stay safe from predators and bullying when they do?"

Laptop Update

Tomorrow we will be meeting with the principal at Lake Trafford Elementary School. Hopefully, he'll match us with a teacher who will help us in the pilots this summer, and who will be the resident Immokalee laptop specialist, on hand to coach other teachers in Immokalee going forward.

So far, here is what we have:

* Classes will be held at Beth El Assembly of God. The kids will meet 3 times a week, one hour each time, throughout the summer. There will be 2 pilots running simultaneously, each with 21 kids - one group from RCMA, the other from Lake Trafford. All are going into 4th grade. There will be 3 teachers who will be certified teacher-trainers for this program by the time the pilot ends.

* The "XO" laptops are made by OLPC (One Laptop Per Child), a nonprofit started by professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab. They are child-sized, drop-proof, waterproof, dust-proof, have Wi-Fi that is four times better than anything we adults can buy for ourselves, and they have the only screen in existence that works well in direct sunlight. Again, we adults just can't buy that, no matter what we're willing to pay. They come with a still- and video-camera. They are theft-proof (they turn off when stolen), and even if they aren't connected to the Internet, they still instantly "mesh:" they recognize when another XO is within range, and hook up to it automatically, making collaboration a breeze. Because OLPC is a nonprofit, the computers themselves are only $220 each, including shipping. Including the training, this program costs $500 per child.

* The software (or "courseware," as it's called) that the kids will be using in class has been created by an organization out of Pennsylvania called Waveplace Foundation ( I am on the board of directors. The founder and president of Waveplace, Tim Falconer, will be leading the first week of teacher-training. That is 30+ intensive hours, most of which are the 3 teachers and Tim alone, going through the entire course that the kids will be taking this summer.

* Waveplace courseware is designed to teach the kids computer skills, including writing code, graphic design, animation, and digital story-telling, among other things. The children will even be using high school geometry - yes, these are 4th graders. Waveplace lets the kids explore and learn; the teachers help them along. Rather than "drill and kill" through rote memorization, kids have fun learning. They stay engaged this way. I've seen it in action. Let me tell you, it's amazing.

* We have had two previous pilots, one on St. John (US Virgin Islands), the other in Haiti. Results were great both times, though we're confident the kids in Immokalee will do even better with their projects because of the ground laid by those first two pilots.

* Once our two pilots are done, we're ready to roll out courses to as many students as we can raise funds for. Our first priority is to bring Waveplace training and OLPC computers to all of the 4th graders in Immokalee; ultimately, every kid from kindergarten through eighth grade will go through this program and have a computer of their own, but that is going to take some serious fund raising. We will also be bringing the same opportunity to the other Title I (poor) schools throughout South Florida, as funds permit.

* Our goal is to be done within ten years. Right now, no kids have this training and these computers. Ten years from now - 2018 - every single kid in South Florida will. That is what we are doing.

Here are the organizations and people involved:

* Waveplace Foundation/Tim Falconer.

* OLPC. The computer its self is called the XO.

* One-by-One Leadership Foundation of SWFL. This is a faith-based organization that has spearheaded our fundraising, brought key players to the table... John Lawson, the executive director, is one of the true heroes of this story.

* - that's my wife Jane and me, and our partner/technology guru Michael Junkroski, owner of on Marco. I'm on the board of Waveplace. I put Tim and John together. We are running the pilots. Jane is one of the three teacher-trainers, and will manage the other teacher-trainers.

* Laptop South Florida. This is the nonprofit that we are forming to run local efforts here in this region. One-by-One is "giving birth" to our 501(c)3, i.e. helping us get established with the state and the IRS. I am building the board.

* Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA)'s Community School - the kids from our first pilot are coming from there.

* The Summer Migrant Program, headed up by Earl Wiggins - the kids from the second pilot are being funded through this project.

Other items of interest:

* There are hundreds of thousands of OLPC computers being used in third-world countries as we speak. Peru and Mexico are leading the movement with 600,000 in use or ordered.

* Our pilot begins Monday, June 9th. WGCU and NPR are both sending reporters to cover this story.

* We will have a presence at the Immokalee Kids Games on Saturday, June 14.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Venture Capitalist

A friend told me today, "You don't want to deal with venture capitalists. They're not nice - they're sharks. They'll take your company from you."

"But I'm not doing business with VCs," I said. "I am a VC. And I don't want to take anyone's business away. That's hardly the point. Then we'd have to run it ourselves, and who wants that?"

Okay, that last part was a bit flip. But the truth is in there: I don't want to take people's businesses from them. I want to help quality entrepreneurs raise money, build a board; perhaps serve on the board myself, and certainly advise regardless. I want the business visionaries we support to thrive. Call me an idealist, but I want everyone to win - except the competition, of course. I'm not much interested in their winning.

My test for myself and my colleagues is, can we be highly ethical and highly successful? My bet is that it is easier to succeed on a massive scale if we are ethical.

Wanna bet against us?

Laptops / Microsoft now involved

The following editorial on the computers we're using in Immokalee is from the Boston Globe.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this controversial move.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Background on Ted Coiné

People can never figure out who I am or what I do for a living. My first answer is, "I'm still trying to figure that one out myself." However, I decided to include it on my blog so that at least it's out there, if someone's interested. So, for the two of you who actually read this blog:

Born in Bethlehem, PA. Grew up in sleepy, affluent Westport, CT. It’s a good place to be from. …“From” being the operative word. Just to be clear: my family was never affluent, not even in the best of times.

BA William & Mary, 1991 – Philosophy major, Psychology minor. I actually had a double major in girls and drinking, with a swimming minor.

1990-91 – Surfed full-time, bartended & waited tables part-time in CA. (It was a paperwork snafu that had me graduating a year after I left campus. I was surfing in Spain when I got the news that I might not graduate at all! We’ll save that story for another time).

1991-92 – Sales, recruiting, & management Equinox International (multi-level marketing). Developed downline of over 100 members. Thank God I didn’t make enough to keep at it!

1993-94 – Other sales positions, calling mostly on large, really, really wealthy real estate developers, institutional investors, and property management firms. From all this, I thought I hated sales; turns out, I merely hate selling the wrong things. Selling the right product can be an absolute blast!

1994-96 – Returned to bartending & waiting to pay the bills until I figured out my next step. Took numerous writing courses, wrote a few bad books and one, Powder Burn, that I’m very proud of – someday I’ll get around to publishing it. Married Jane 1996. This remains the wisest decision I’ve ever made. Jane rocks.

1997-2001 – Taught English as a Second Language (ESL) at a world-class private language school (4 years), then worked 6 months as director of a new school started by a former colleague (now defunct - the school, that is. Tim is doing well). Boston, London, and Malta are the three global centers for the private ESL industry. What luck that I fell into this career in Boston!

2001 – Started “Ted’s English School” (now Coiné Language School) in our living room. Made $10 the first month. About 2 years ago, we valued the school at $10 million. On a bad day, I might sell it for $100, but those are few now that I’m 900 miles away from daily operations. I’ve backed off selling it 3 times and counting. As an aside: this company has billion-dollar potential. EF, a privately owned competitor with an inferior product, is a $1 billion company and growing fast. I needed some time off, though. One of my mottos is, “If it isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong.” Well, I wasn’t having fun. Meanwhile, my speaking career was taking off…

2005 – Wrote my first published book, Five-Star Customer Service. Began traveling extensively, giving one-day workshops and keynote speeches, primarily to small-medium business owners ($5-20 million) and C-level executives of larger enterprises (targeting the Fortune 100). Well-paid speakers are treated somewhat like rock-stars, which is addictive. Traveling from my family? I’m not as crazy about that, so I’ve cut back dramatically in the last year. There are many things in this life more important than money.

2006 – Moved to Naples. Unquestionably the second-best decision I have ever made. Established the Coiné Foundation ( two weeks later, while still living in Mom’s condo.

2007 – Wrote Spoil ’Em Rotten! with Jane, also about customer service, corporate culture, and leadership. Doubled one-day fee to $10,000.

2007 – established with Jane and Michael Junkroski, who has since become a close personal friend. Jane’s take? “Ted, this is the best thing you’ve ever done.” Also gathered the nucleus to create The Naples Institute (“Fighting for social justice!”, a think tank that I see as our legacy – 100 years from now, that is what we will all be remembered for. What a talented group we’ve gathered: Rita & Bernie Turner, Jim Fisher, Gene Landrum, Jeanmarie Hendry, Michael, Ilene Leff, and me! (5 of the 8 principals are professional business consultants, so we’ve also formed NI Access, the for-profit consulting sister entity of The Naples Institute.)

2007/08 – Joined the board of Waveplace Foundation (, based in PA, to help bring OLPC laptop computers ( and education to the poorest children in the world, starting in South Florida and the Caribbean.

2008 – Still forming Laptop South Florida (LSF) with the help of my friend John Lawson at the One-by-One Leadership Foundation. LSF will be the local face of Waveplace. We’re off to a great start, with two pilots starting up in Immokalee on June 9th.

2008 – Co-founded NIA Venture Group, LLC with partner Gene Landrum (filed with the state & IRS today, May 13). Banyana/WHS is our first project – Gene is chairman of the board, I also serve on the board; Skip Muller is the CEO and founder. Mum’s the word right now, but it is destined to be a household name in a year or two.

Nonprofit Boards:
Coiné Foundation (in sleep mode at present)
Naples Social Action (More of less my full-time job for the past year)
Volunteer Collier
Cancer Alliance of Naples
Waveplace Foundation
Laptop South Florida

Committees – I can’t even remember! Let’s just say, I’ve been pretty busy in the past year or so.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Laptops / What a Week!

Today's editorial in the Naples Daily News (NDN) said it better than I have been:

We've had a banner week. Some highlights:

* Last Saturday, Laptop South Florida made the front page of NDN (see below).

* Waveplace Foundation got funding for a pilot in Nicaragua.

* Wednesday, I met with two stellar elementary school teachers to interview them for our pilot in Immokalee, which will certify them to be teacher-trainers for the future: "Other Ted" and Susan. I hope to be sharing a lot more about them with you as things progress - but I don't want to get ahead of myself.

* Thursday John Lawson and I met with Earl Wiggins, who heads up the summer migrant program for the public schools in Immokalee. His boss has to sign off, but it looks like we will be doing a second, simultaneous pilot with 21 more kids this summer.

* Also Thursday, I met with John Lawson's boss, Reid Carpenter. Reid heads up the One-by-One Leadership Foundation locally and also the Leadership Foundation internationally. We had a great meeting, signed a contract of sorts spelling out our relationship, and now we can move forward with a relationship based on mutual trust and esteem. I'll admit, I was apprehensive before now about what John's board might want viz-a-viz control of Laptop South Florida. I am no longer worried in the least.

* ...And at that same meeting we added a member to the board I'm forming for LSF, Dave Hailer, a truly remarkable man who, among other endeavors, led the Peace Corps!

There's more - I haven't even mentioned Efrain until now - but I'll save it for my next posting. Here is how I'd like to finish this entry:

I am amazed and grateful that we have attracted the caliber of people we have to LSF. It's the stuff of dreams, to be able to put a team together such as ours.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

We made the news!

Today, Naples Daily News. Tomorrow, the New York Times!

All kidding aside, I think you'll agree, writer Tracy Miguel once again wrote a very good story about NSA and our endeavors.