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Summer Reading

Here were the books that made the largest impression on me this summer:


Taking on a calling:  On God’s Side by Jim Wallis.  Our Wednesday morning book group at church read this book last summer and I put it into practice this summer.   One concept made me literally sit up and take notice – the recession is over for the people who created it and the young people have been left behind.  I felt a calling to help young people and started UpTurnships with two other passionate partners and funding from the church. Eight college students had paid internships because of our efforts.  Thanks to the eight UpTurns and my partners for an amazing summer!


Learning something new: Strengthfinder 2.0.  At UpTurnships, our curriculum starts with knowing your strengths.  We use the Strengthfinder tool and had great guidance for the young people from several skilled professionals.  As a team, we use the knowledge of our strengths in all we do.  This book helps me learn more about the strengths. Thanks Marianne and Krista for your expertise!

Unknown-2The pure joy of fiction:  The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling).  You won’t be able to put this mystery down.  I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.  Thanks Libby for your suggestion!

What were your favorite reads this summer?  There’s always the cool days of fall curled up with a great book!

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What’s different about Millenials? Transportation

Source: U.S. PIRG Education Fund Frontier Group, Spring 2013Millenials are not driving cars at the rate of past generations.  But their use of other types of transport is much higher.

  • The percent of young people with a driver’s license has been dropping for years.  In 2011, the percent of 16 − 24 year-olds with driver’s licenses dipped to 67%—the lowest percent since 1963 (see graph).
  • In 2009 compared with 2001, when the 16 − 34 year- olds declined in size by 2%, they took 24% more total bike trips and traveled +40% more passenger-miles per capita on public transit.

These changes are often blamed on the recession.  But the numbers point to more attitudinal changes and adaptive behavior.  Several of these trends started well before the recession  (owning a driver’s license and per capita vehicle miles) and   Millenials with jobs also show similar declines in vehicle travel.  This generation desires a less auto-focused lifestyle and wants to live in urban areas.   As the most  mobile-connected group,  they find non-driving travel options  more appealing can find work situations that require less traditional auto-commuting.  And as a group they are taking on less auto debt, a very smart adaptive behavior.

For more information, see A New Direction:  Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America’s Future, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Frontier Group, Spring 2013.



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Wednesday morning Book Group Inspiration

I’m a part of our church’s Wednesday morning social justice book group.  This is a great community, with a wide range of views, all accepted.    Here are some recent reads from the group:


Greg Boyle’s Tatoos on the Heart:  This is a favorite of mine because it’s really about the hope of an entrepreneur.   Boyle is a Catholic priest in LA devoted to helping hundreds of gang members find jobs.  Instead of “job hunting”, he builds businesses and employs gang members.  He’s likely the largest employer of gang members in the country!  His businesses range from silkscreening to tattoo removal, though not surprisingly, plumbing didn’t succeed!  He shares very real stories on our culture and poignant views of the gang culture.  You will be moved to rethink  your judgements on  gang members  and what one person can do to solve a huge social issue.

Unknown-2Jim Wallis’ On God’s Side:  Wallis advocates for Washington to capture the best from each side of the political aisle.  He advocates for the positive value of personal responsibility  from Republicans and the positive value of social responsibility from Democrats.   I read the chapter on economic system reform with skepticism, but then was inspired by some new thinking on how to help young people navigate this system and get better jobs.  More to come on that front!


Reza Aslan is an Iranian-American writer and professed “scholar of religions,” though he is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the UC Riverside.  Zealot explores the historical Jesus, sharing the political, social and religious systems in place at the time of Jesus.  One comment from our group:  do all Jesus’ biographies portray a Jesus that is similar to the author?  It’s a quick read though not necessarily an easy one.

My next reads include Switch by the Heath brothers and Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Generation.  Let me know what you are reading!



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Drive Repeat!

My twin sister Lynda (on right) and me. BTW our nicknames in high school were Pete and Repete. Apropos for this post!

I’ve always believed businesses are built on repeat.  All the businesses I ever worked on needed at least a 40% repeat rate to be viable.  And when you do the math – which I just love to model – you see just how much of the volume is due to repeat.  That 80/20 rule (80% of the volume comes from 20% of the users) really does come true.

So the new trend of subscription services is very intriguing.  Of course, insurance premiums and financial products have known how to do this for decades.  But now hard goods has an easy way to drive repeat with their best customers using these services.  Here are some new ideas on the market:

  • Birchbox for Men -  monthly subscription service that’s like getting a goody box in the mail. The men’s Birchbox contains a menagerie of lifestyle and grooming products plus snacks. The subscription is $20 per month.  See more men’s services in this article from November in Mashable.  (FYI..there is Birchbox for women too.)
  • Amazon Prime – As Jeff Bezos says, “…Prime is now the best value in the history of shopping.” For an annual subscription of $79 you get free unlimited two-day shipping for 15 million items.  This service drives repeat of Amazon in our household!  There’s no official number of subscribers, but Piper Jaffrey estimates it at 10 million at the end of 2011.
  • – To run your own subscription service is as easy as using  You can be your own curator!
  • Executive clothing shopping services:  There are many to choose from but my favorite is Corset Styling.  It’s a local Edina store but stylist Jodi Montgomery Mayers has customers all over the country.  This group is high service and wonderful style!

On a side note, I guess I inherently have an interest in “repeat” given I’m an identical twin.  My twin sister Lynda and I were called “Pete” and “RePete” in high school (my maiden name is Peterson.)  There’s a lot to love in repeat!!


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