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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

Cold Turkey Lessons

A retired sergeant major inherited a talking parrot from a recently departed relative who had run a busy dockside pub. For the first few days in his new home the normally talkative parrot was distinctly shy. The old major, despite his stern and disciplined ways, felt sorry for the bird, and gently encouraged it with soft words and pieces of fruit. After a week or so the parrot began to find its voice – a little at first – and then more so. Responding to the kind treatment, the parrot’s vocabulary continued to recover, including particularly the many colorful expressions it had been taught in the dockside pub.

The old sergeant major began to be quite irritated by the parrot’s incessant rudeness, and after a few more days of worsening profanities, decided action was required to bring the bird under control. The sergeant major tried at first to incentivize the parrot with the promise of reward for good behavior, but to no avail. He next tried to teach the bird a lesson by withdrawing its privileges, again to no avail; the parrot remained stubbornly rude. Finally the old major flipped into battleground management mode; he grabbed the bird, clamped his hands around its beak, and thrust the struggling, swearing parrot, into the top drawer of the freezer, slamming the door tightly shut. The swearing and struggling noises continued inside the freezer for a few seconds and then abruptly stopped. The sergeant major listened for a while and then, concerned that the parrot’s shock might have been terminal, carefully opened the freezer door and opened the drawer to look. The parrot slowly clambered out of the drawer and perched on its ledge.

“I must apologize for my rude and disrespectful behavior,” said the parrot, “I promise never to use bad language again. And by the way, what on earth did the turkey do?”

Like our parrot in the story above; we too can learn valuable lessons from looking at the successes and failures of others. More than 600,000 businesses are started each year in the United States. The key to these successes is quite simple – each and every one of these people stepped up and took a risk.

I’ve always felt that the term “hero” should be reserved for our militarypolice, and firefighters as they put their lives at risk to protect us all. At the same time, some distinction is necessary for people who are willing to commit their time, energy and resources to making the world a better place with a business. I imagine that the people in business don’t consider themselves heroes either. They see themselves as simple people working to make a difference because they have the resources, and because they can.

600,000 is a lot of people, but when you look at that number compared to the 319 million people living in our country, the true reality sets in. Most people are afraid to start; they fear the unknown or failure, others find starting a business simply overwhelming.

I had a very good teacher tell me one time that when things seem complex it is always best to break it down to the most basic element. The basics of starting a business are simple; you just need a product or service, a group of people willing to pay for it, and a way to get paid. Think about it – if you have a group of interested people but nothing to sell, you don’t have a business. If you have something to sell but no one willing to buy it, you don’t have a business. In both cases, without a clear and easy way for customers to pay for what you offer, you don’t have a business. Put the three together, and congratulations— you’re now an entrepreneur.

As we continue to grow Tama County’ economy, let’s all learn the lesson from our new entrepreneurs – put the fears to the side and step up and take a risk.


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