I try to focus on the simplest (elegant) answer possible when confronting a problem.
Take education and diet for example. Both of these subjects are very complex, so I start from simple solutions and then work my way up step by step until I’ve worked my way through to more complex issues.
For education, I’m focusing on pre- school education, because the research is overwhelming. Teaching a child as early as three years old basic skills such as language and communication skills, places under privileged children at a three to nine month advantage when they start kindergarten and then go on to reading.
For diet, science has pegged many diseases to high calorie manufactured food. Cut calories and you cut obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
My mission for the next ten years is to ensure little children from socially disadvantaged families receive a world class pre-school education, and to ensure that children’s calorie intake on manufactured food is cut by one third.
What strategies will I employ to accomplish my mission?
For education I will partner with educational professionals who are “white knights” (two of my daughters who have been highly trained in education and have had successful hands on experience) in the pre-school- early elementary school business. I will ensure that they have state of the art facilities to work in, which are located close to a top notch university. I will challenge them to create curriculum that will one, ensure that pre-school curriculum and early elementary school curriculum is world class, and affords children the strongest possible chance of becoming strong readers.
For diet, I will continue to retain my half ownership in Grenx (one of my sons owns the other half), maker of Green Tea HP, and ensure senior management is expert in manufacturing high value pixie powered products that have fewer calories, and high nutritional benefits. We will ensure that new brands will be introduced that compete with the best food manufacturers in the world.
No one will stay on the cutting edge of knowledge more than my partners in education and food manufacturing.
For example, global databases, now called Big Data, exists which share information on the best methods of helping young children and teens to learn. They are science based and “use measurement tools from medicine to economics.” They provide information from all parts of the world, as well as long and short term studies.
It’s challenging some of our old pedagogical theories of classroom practices. For example, Scientific American Magazine shared the following results:
– Experiments show that kindergartners retain more facts of a story told to them in rooms that are bare. Rather enhancing learning, decorated classrooms may distract a child’s attention rather than enhance their ability to concentrate.
– Students do better on science when they are first introduced to a science project before they are given lectures. Frustration at trying to solve a scientific problem is how science works, trial and error. If students first engage a scientific project cold, experiment with it, experience frustration at trying to figure it out, and then are given a lecture, students do significantly better on science tests.
– Under certain conditions, students gain more from going to summer school than being in a smaller class during the school year. For disadvantaged children time in a classroom is more important than classroom size.
Learning Part 2
Manufactured food, according to another issue of Scientific American Magazine, can be responsible for cutting down heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure if they not only regulate calories but fat, sugar, and salt in their products.
Manufactured foods is where the biggest dietary problems exist. Right now the three most successful companies at attacking this problem are Anglo-European companies. They are:
– Dannon ( or Danone): a French company headquartered in Paris in the Ninth Arrondissement ( district) which processes and produces dairy products, specialty breads, infant nutritional products, and medical nutritional products. (It also produces Evian bottled water. Green Tea HP uses bottled water, into which it pours its powdered green tea supplement.)
– Unilever: an Anglo/Dutch company headquartered in London and Rotterdam which produces foods, beverages, and personal care products. (This company owns Lipton, producers of Lipton Green Tea. Green Tea HP from Grenx competes with this product. Green Tea HP is a significantly stronger green tea with many more flavors which is a powder product found in a pixie and is poured into water and stirred. Our product is a supplement which allows us to make a stronger green tea.)
– Nestle: a Swiss company headquartered in Vevey which produces confectionary (sweet or sugar products with carbohydrates), baby foods, cereals, bottled water, pet food, coffee, ice cream, dairy products.
NOW – THE TRUTH
Want to know why I’m really doing this?
Some 20 years ago, I came up with the idea that I wanted to create family businesses and involve all my children and their spouses and future spouses.
Well, that’s what happened.
However, there were unintended consequences. By far the most painful one was that one third of my family broke off and became competitors. My goal was to unify and involve my family. The result was the opposite. While we were all involved in creating four family businesses, we became a divided family with one business leaving, and three staying.
It was difficult going through it, but as I look back, I have few regrets. For a time my personal anxiety seeing the tension within my family was overwhelming. After two years of lawsuits, physical confrontation, threats, unsuccessful negotiations, endless misunderstandings, a buyout took place. All seemed settled until a competing business was created by a family member using the buyout money we had offered up.
At that point I patched up my wounds, learned my lessons, and got on down the road. I weathered the storm, and continued on with the normal nerve racking challenges associated with the remaining three new and growing businesses.
Now, I can reflect on how amazing it is how having a vision of the future creates the future. If you count the break off, we have created four family businesses that are functioning. A consulting firm, a construction business (not mentioned in this article), and two new age beverage companies.
If anyone questions my resolve in accomplishing the mission I shared above about education and diet, they have missed the point of how serious I am once I have a vision of where I want to go.