A CITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN CREATES STABILITY AND WORK FOR THOSE ALREADY HERE FIRST-----BEFORE BRINGING IN IMMIGRANTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD.
They call it sustainable cities using criteria that dismantle existing communities offering no relief from the years of misappropriation of funds and subprime mortgage frauds. The citizens of Baltimore have decided that having Wall Street's Baltimore Development and Johns Hopkins controlling our government IS UNSUSTAINABLE AND ENDING THAT CONTROL IS OUR DEVELOPMENT PLAN.
On June 16, 2009, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined together to help communities nationwide improve access to affordable housing, increase transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment.
The Partnership for Sustainable Communities (PSC) works to coordinate federal housing, transportation, water, and other infrastructure investments to make neighborhoods more prosperous, allow people to live closer to jobs, save households time and money, and reduce pollution. The partnership agencies incorporate six principles of livability into federal funding programs, policies, and future legislative proposals.
PSC 2015 Priorities
In 2015, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities will bring the skills and expertise of the member agencies to support each agency’s priority efforts, as well as offering support to USDA and FEMA. These actions focus on three key areas:
- using PSC agency resources to advance Ladders of Opportunity for every American and every community
- helping communities adapt to a changing climate, while mitigating future disaster losses
- supporting implementation of community-based development priorities
DOT’s connectivity project seeks to help Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) measure the degree to which the transportation system provides access to jobs and essential services, particularly for disadvantaged populations. The pilot is a major departure from the traditional focus on travel speed and mobility, which have helped contribute to unsustainable development patterns.
b. Expand the Conversation on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH)
As HUD finalizes and rolls out its revised rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), DOT and EPA will identify areas of alignment with their connectivity and environmental justice efforts. For more information visit: www.huduser.org/portal/affht_pt.html
c. Deliver Technical Assistance on Building Local and Regional Food Systems
The Partnership agencies will collaborate with USDA and other agencies on the new Local Foods/Local Places (LFLP) initiative. This initiative delivers technical assistance to communities of all sizes that seek help in using food systems to support broader economic and community revitalization. For more information, see: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/03/local-food-local-places-bringing-expertise-and-creative-thinking-community-economic-
d. Leverage Partnerships in Targeted Regional Pilot Communities
EPA has identified 51 communities from across the country to help target EPA discretionary dollars and other federal investments—particularly from HUD, DOT and USDA—to improve environmental, public health and economic outcomes by mitigating the effects of climate change, promoting green infrastructure, and encouraging equitable development. These communities are predominately low capacity and underserved communities.
2. Helping Communities Adapt to a Changing Climate a. Incorporate Climate-Related Risks into FEMA State Hazard Mitigation Planning
As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) updates its State Hazard Mitigation Planning Guidance in 2014, HUD, DOT, and EPA are working with NOAA to develop revised guidance that will encourage states to consider climate change risks in FEMA-required hazard mitigation plans. The Partnership agencies will draw on their experiences with sustainable communities planning and technical assistance to provide best practices to the FEMA-supported state agencies.
b. Support HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition
In September 2014, HUD launched its nearly $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC), making funds available on a competitive basis to communities that have been struck by recent natural disasters. The competition promotes risk assessment and planning and will fund the implementation of innovative resilience projects to better prepare communities for future storms and other extreme events. The Partnership agencies will support capacity building efforts associated with the competition. For more information on the National Disaster Resilience Competition, see: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=FactSheet_071514.pdf
c. Support the Administration’s Green Infrastructure Collaborative
EPA is joining with federal agencies, NGOs, and other private sector entities to form a broad-based network of organizations interested in promoting and implementing green infrastructure, known as the Green Infrastructure Collaborative. In 2014, the PSC agencies signed on to support this effort, committing to specific actions to help promote green infrastructure which include training, best practice dissemination, and technical assistance. For more information, on the Green Infrastructure Collaborative, see: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/gi_partners.cfm.
3. Supporting the Next Stage of Implementation of the Partnership’s Community Investments a. Support Implementation in PSC-assisted Communities
The PSC has reached hundreds of communities since 2009 through various planning efforts, and in the coming year, will focus on helping communities implement their plans to yield tangible results. Additionally, the PSC will also help communities leverage resources at local, state and federal levels, such as through the EPA regional pilot initiative and capitalize on increased interest from the private sector.
b. Leverage the Regions to Provide Ongoing Support to Communities
Regional staff from EPA, HUD and DOT have created collaborative cross-agency structures throughout in the field. The Regional Engagement Team (RET) will continue to support these field-based efforts. The RET will update its work plan to focus on:
- Supporting regional staff in their efforts to address the above PSC priorities;
- Connecting field-based staff with relevant trainings as opportunities arise;
- Maintaining roster of key place-based staff working in field for each agency; and,
- Ensuring open communication between regional staff and appropriate headquarters staff on issues related to place-based work within and between the respective agencies.
In Baltimore, sustainable communities as with Enterprise Zone real estate policy has never been about creating stable, diverse communities having businesses and factories close to home and community networks to grow stable communities. It has always been about starving all of the surrounding communities and city center for decades while using Enterprise Zone funding for corporate and affluent development minus any structures for public enrichment and diverse communities. All of that Enterprise Zone money used downtown could easily have stabilized and created small businesses in all communities leaving these communities strong and people contributing to Baltimore's economy. This is a win-win for everyone. Now, Baltimore Development and Johns Hopkins are using these Sustainable Communities funding to do the same. Closing all community assets-----pushing families out of communities because there is no schools while failing to build new schools has a goal of moving citizens out while filling communities and schools with immigrant families. So, we are not solving a problem-----we are compounding the problem as immigrant families are just as impoverished as citizens already here. The goal for Hopkins is destabilization and creating a workforce and people living in an International Economic Zone having NO RIGHTS AS CITIZENS AND THEREFOR EASY TO EXPLOIT AND ABUSE---TO CREATE A MIGRANT ENVIRONMENT FOR LABOR.
That is not what Sustainable Communities are about. We would have plenty of jobs for both domestic and immigrant workers if we build a local, domestic economy----
Moving citizens into the city for density is not a bad idea----having density right on water's edge is not environmental and I would say not sustainable as food and water cannot be made available through urban development no matter what they are pretending to do with community gardens et al. IT WON'T HAPPEN. They know this of course and there is no intent of creating what sustainable communities says it wants----the goal in Baltimore is creating a Manhattan for the rich with nothing but super-consumption and waste for which the rich are known. They are just keeping the underserved busy while they build these International Economic Zone structures.
Building Sustainable Communities
What are Sustainable Communities? These are places that offer the positive environments needed to ensure that all residents of varied income levels are provided the opportunities and tools to build assets, to participate in their communities, and to become part of the mainstream economy. They are, in effect, the embodiment of both "community" and "development" — places where human opportunity and social and economic vitality combine with a continuous process of growth, adaptation, and improvement.
In 1980, when LISC made its first loan, our goal was to help residents and community-based organizations rebuild blighted neighborhoods so they could improve their quality of life. We knew then that it would be a long-term proposition, one that required nurturing and commitment as well as funding. All of that is still true today, especially in the current economic environment. More people and more neighborhoods find themselves skidding toward the same kind of distress so prevalent at LISC’s founding.
But unlike then, today we have a proven strategy to help them reverse course.
Launched in 2007, LISC’s Building Sustainable Communities strategy has proven to be a promising agent of change, one that is flexible, innovative and responsive to local conditions. It reaches into every corner of a community’s life with a comprehensive approach that can help change the trajectory of disadvantaged neighborhoods.
How does this play out in practice? Children stroll safely down once crumbling streets. They attend effective schools and play in refurbished neighborhood parks with a variety of recreation programs. Families live in quality affordable housing, where reasonable rents leave them with more disposable income. They can shop for healthy foods at urban farmers markets and buy goods at renewed retail corridors. And, parents have access to range of health care, child care, financial counseling and employment services to help them stabilize their family’s outlook and build assets for the future.
Ours is no longer just a vision or hopeful plan. Building Sustainable Communities offers neighborhoods a way forward to developing stability and promoting growth. It helps transform streets marked by chronic poverty and stagnation into good places to live, work, do business and raise families.
We are putting Building Sustainable Communities into action. And it is working.
Our strategic plan identifies five program goals that, taken together, define this larger vision of Sustainable Communities:
- Expanding Investment in Housing and Other Real Estate
- Increasing Family Income and Wealth
- Stimulating Economic Development
- Improving Access to Quality Education
- Supporting Healthy Environments and Lifestyles
If you know Clinton is a neo-liberal with a goal of creating International Economic Zones in US cities that will look like FOXCONN global corporate campuses as was built by US corporations in China---then you know Clinton's Enterprise Zone and now Obama's Promise Zones are not intended to do what they say----IT IS PROGRESSIVE POSING AGAIN FOLKS---REMEMBER, NEO-LIBERALS POSE PROGRESSIVE AS THEY MOVE WEALTH AND POWER TO GLOBAL CORPORATIONS.
Enterprise Zones are meant to grow business and jobs by making underserved citizens business owners-----and hire from the community. It was to build public networks in unresourced communities---libraries, recreation centers, public health clinics, public schools......THIS IS WHAT UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES LACK AND NEED. What Clinton and now Obama are doing instead is sending all these funds to Baltimore Development to distribute----Hopkins Development is connected to this----and nothing happens in these underserved communities but tons of temporary non-profits that do little for employment, that come with leadership appointed from outside the communities, and that do almost nothing to advance these communities because there is no organization that comes with the public sector government. Meanwhile, all of the real funding goes downtown and to Hopkins along with tax subsidies for global corporations.
THIS IS HOW A NEO-LIBERAL PRETENDS TO BE DOING SOMETHING PROGRESSIVE WHEN IT IS DOING THE OPPOSITE.
- THIS IS HOW A NEO-LIBERAL PRETENDS TO BE DOING SOMETHING PROGRESSIVE WHEN IT IS DOING THE OPPOSITE.
Like Clinton------Obama has no intention of lifting these citizens-----they are building global FOXCONN factories for these citizens.
'Chicago’s Clinton-era program was among the least successful. (Unemployment actually went up.) As a former community organizer in Chicago and an Illinois state senator during the same period, Obama perhaps should have been leery of this approach. Despite his direct experience with Chicago’s poor neighborhoods, his urban policy has been remarkably conservative and largely reliant on Republican ideas'.
Obama’s Promise Zones a weak brew of recycled ingredients
- Designed to uplift poor neighborhoods, the initiative instead repeats prior administrations’ mistakes
- January 16, 2014 7:15AM ET by Susan Greenbaum @sdgreenbaum
President Barack Obama shakes hands with New York City ninth-grader Kiara Molina of the Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy, Jan. 9, 2014, in Washington, D.C., at the announcement of the first of 20 Promise Zones.Alex Wong/Getty Images On Jan. 9, amid a week that devoted unusual attention to poor people, President Barack Obama unveiled his new Promise Zone initiative. Touted as a comprehensive strategy to uplift impoverished places, the concept was set to debut in five sites, located in Los Angeles, San Antonio, Philadelphia, southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma. The announcement offered no new funding; the only direct benefits are tax exemptions, yet to be passed by Congress, and five AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers assigned to each site. The new zones will be prioritized for competitive funding in other federal grant programs and will receive technical assistance to boost local interagency coordination and private involvement. It is not much — especially compared with the 1964 rollout of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty — particularly at a time when low-income housing funds have suffered a heavy hit from the sequester and when social support needed to sustain residents of distressed areas has dwindled.
Promise Zones are the latest iteration of an idea first promoted by Jack Kemp, secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under President George H.W. Bush. He called them enterprise zones; the Republican approach offered tax incentives and regulatory relief for businesses that would provide jobs and commerce in impoverished inner-city and rural areas. Several states adopted this idea, but no federal legislation succeeded until 1993, when President Bill Clinton relabeled them empowerment zones, with little substantive difference. Modest levels of funding were attached, the bulk of which went to private-sector and government entities with claims that it would trickle down in jobs for the impoverished inhabitants. Success was likewise modest and accountability lacking.
Early in George W. Bush’s administration, I served on a community advisory committee for the enterprise-zone program in Tampa, Fla. Most members represented nonprofits; I was the lone academic. Our liaison was the city’s housing director; he treated us with palpable disrespect and limited our function to doling out very small grants, most of which went to organizations that had members on the committee. Not long after my term ended, the housing director was convicted of misappropriating low-income housing funds to build a love nest for his mistress in the posh part of town. He lost his job and his house and was sentenced to eight years in prison. (These were unusually harsh penalties, but the sex scandal had stirred interest in the case. His wife’s public complaint likely was the only reason it came to light.)
To be fair, many officials overseeing enterprise or empowerment zones were not corrupt. But the extent of mishandling and misappropriation in these programs is rarely factored into explanations for why they had such a meager impact. According to a recent article in The Christian Science Monitor, Chicago’s Clinton-era program was among the least successful. (Unemployment actually went up.) As a former community organizer in Chicago and an Illinois state senator during the same period, Obama perhaps should have been leery of this approach. Despite his direct experience with Chicago’s poor neighborhoods, his urban policy has been remarkably conservative and largely reliant on Republican ideas.
A familiar strategy Promise Zones build on several programs that were begun during Obama’s first term — a multiagency strategy called the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI). That initiative combines Choice Neighborhood grants funded by HUD, Promise Neighborhood grants from the Department of Education, and the Department of Justice’s Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program. The new zones have all implemented one or more of these programs and devised transformation plans based on the goals they set forth.
Obama’s place-based strategy differs somewhat from the more individualized approach of the Clinton and Bush years. Formerly, the emphasis was on removing poor families from areas of concentrated poverty and dispersing (“deconcentrating”) them into lower-poverty “opportunity neighborhoods” through vouchers for private housing. This was accomplished in a HUD program known as Hope VI, which demolished 255,000 units of public housing from 1993 to 2010. New mixed-income complexes with lower density were built on the cleared sites. Fewer than 1 in 4 previous inhabitants were able to return.
While Choice Neighborhoods and Promise Zones embrace many of the same goals and language as Hope VI, they focus on wider areas surrounding public housing projects. Demolitions will continue and tenants will still be dispersed with vouchers. The rationale that displacement is in residents’ best interest has been dropped. Hope VI produced no improvements in employment or school achievement, many problems (from transportation to extra utility costs) associated with forced relocation and lots of ugly resistance from relocated residents. In other words, deconcentration did not work well at all, but displacement will continue and the target neighborhoods will improve only through gentrification. Even under the best of scenarios, poor residents are unlikely to benefit.
Promise Zones show that without more funding and partnerships with the real stakeholders, the government cannot effectively help the poor. Promise Neighborhood grants are modeled on the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), an ambitious community-centered educational support program in New York City. Founded by the social activist and educator Geoffrey Canada (with major help from Wall Street and then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg), it aimed in part to expand charter schools in Harlem. Modest gains in test scores have been achieved with HCZ, but charter schools overall have a disappointing record. Private funding levels for HCZ are also extremely high and not replicable in most other places. Canada is a charismatic figure who counts as a close friend the millionaire (and his former Bowdoin roommate) Kenneth Chenault, and as an advisor billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller, also a fellow Bowdoin alum. Most activists do not have such advantages.
The Byrne program is designed to fight crime and enhance neighborhood safety. The program derives from the larger Justice Department grants credited with militarizing local police departments and ramping up the drug war. But police-community relations in poor neighborhoods are typically very bad, and more police attention is unlikely to help. Drug sweeps and stop-and-frisk activities exacerbate both the misery of poor families and antagonism between police and residents. Unless deep-seated mistrust can be confronted and eliminated, it will be very difficult to overcome historical obstacles to cooperation and respectful treatment.
Broken ideas The new Promise Zones build on these programmatic elements. The zone choices are controversial. L.A.’s is in the city’s central section, where gentrification and displacement are already occurring, and does not include long-distressed areas in south L.A., such as Watts and Compton. Rural Kentucky, of all the distressed rural districts and deserving areas across the country, seems a somewhat random choice, but Kentucky Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell both attended the announcement, perhaps boosting the chances of bipartisan support. In his speech Obama said, “I don’t care whether ideas are Democratic or Republican. I do care that they work.” Unfortunately, many of the ideas he espouses under this mantra have been shown not to work.
By giving priority to zone applicants for federal grants, the program puts all neighborhoods in unfair competition with each other. Already scarce federal dollars will be that much harder to obtain in other places with arguably greater needs or more promising projects. Similarly, nonprofits that are not part of the zone plan will find it very difficult to compete for public and philanthropic funds. This competition at the local level has always made cooperation among organizations very difficult. The otherwise sensible prescription to improve coordination and eliminate duplicative services has not been feasible in most neighborhoods and invariably requires that agencies sacrifice autonomy and staff, which most are reluctant to do.
And then there is the corruption that never fails to intrude into this kind of redevelopment project. Examples are legion of projects derailed by graft, greed or corner-cutting. Private partners are far less accountable than public servants. A Hope VI project in Tampa that built 12 single-family homes on a portion of the cleared site of a large public-housing complex went awry when it was discovered that the builder had used toxic drywall. The structures proved to be completely uninhabitable, but the new owners were still deemed responsible for mortgages they had taken out and any health problems their families experienced. The prime contractor had subcontracted the job to a company that had since gone out of business. The contractor and the city’s housing authority washed their hands of the problem. New homeowners lost everything. Many other examples in many other places could be cited.
A final, important problem is the lack of effective participation by residents. Amazingly, HUD’s description of stakeholders in designated Choice Neighborhoods — it lists “public housing authorities, cities, schools, police, business owners, nonprofits, and private developers” — does not include the people who actually live there. This patronizing posture has been a flaw in poverty programming for nearly 50 years. The widely held belief that residents of poor neighborhoods are culturally deficient, socially damaged by their environment and cognitively impaired by poverty diminishes their perceived capacity to join the partnership. But they are the ones who know their own problems, and their energy and compliance are critical to success. Obama, a former community organizer, should know that.
It is easy to criticize this initiative, and I honestly hope I am wrong. In a poisonous atmosphere of fiscal austerity, anti-Obama madness and disparagement of poor people, we should perhaps be grateful for any attention to this problem. However, bad policies and programs can sometimes harm more than help. Promise Zones seemingly promise little and may provide one more example of how, without adequate funding and genuine partnerships with the real stakeholders, the government cannot effectively help the poor.
Now, if instead of creating these FOXCONN global corporate campuses we funded small businesses---NOT STARTUPS FOR GOODNESS SAKE AS THESE ARE JUST TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT-----we allow citizens in communities to rebuild themselves-----small factories manufacturing ordinary products people need with subsidy from these Enterprise Zone/Promise Zone funds. When you know global corporations are going to take all public health and education----all of these health and education non-profits will go away very soon if these policies continue so we create jobs that stay------funding small grocery stores---not convenience stores----not chain cell phone stores, chain clothing stores, chain food stores.
Black minority contractors had engineering and construction companies that have been killed with this global takeover but we want to go smaller where citizens are demolishing homes and building new ones not outsourced contractors bringing workers through to do it. Where citizens have businesses that create transportation opportunities in that community---and then grow them into regional businesses. All of these Federal funds need to grow locally first and not make a few people automatically a big player as is happening today.
Baltimore's communities NEED TO DOWNSIZE because they are not as populated. That means there is space for lots of PUBLIC PARKS AND RECREATION SPACE-----between rehabbed/new homes. Sustainability does not need to mean moving everyone to city center---it means clearing and redesigning existing communities so they are efficient and effective WITH THE HELP OF PUBLIC SECTOR AGENCIES AND NOT NON-PROFITS.
Baltimore is all about startups and non-profits because both of these are temporary and lead no where for people wanting a long-term business to grow. It is deliberate to placate large numbers of people while International Economic Zone policy is installed.
DEMAND SMALL BUSINESSES THAT DO NOT DISMANTLE OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND PUBLIC HEALTH AS THAT AGAIN IS THE FOCUS OF THESE POLICIES.
- You don't want to be in the CLOUD---we want you in a storefront to grow presence in a community.
Startups Do Not — Repeat, DO NOT — Prepare You to Create Products Hear that?
- That’s the sound of me pulling on my asbestos underwear. I know that this is the the myth which is going to get me flame-broiled. But hell, it’s November, so let’s talk turkey anyway.
When we last talked, I was mythbusting a long essay by an agency owner who himself was trying to out the “myth” of the consulting agency-turned-product company.
Let’s pick up where we left off, shall we? Here’s a choice quote for starters:
“As mentors to TechStars, MassChallenge and other accelerators we’ve seen a lot of startups come and go. Their initial enthusiasm is often followed by waning cash reserves and one too many pivots. The reality is that only a small percentage of startups actually return anything to their investors. An even smaller percentage hit the big time. Being on the client [startup] side of the fence is way more risky than being the designer or developer [agency].”
Now, none of the above quote is myth; all of it is god’s honest truth, more’s the pity. As the real mythbusters say: Well, there’s your problem.
Think about it…
Imagine a world where every startup was expected to actually make money:
- They would build things they could charge for…
- They would charge for them from day 1…
- which would, of course, cut the dream of hockeystick growth just to pieces
The whole VC world would collapse.
VCs don’t like small sure things. “You have to speculate to accumulate.” They prefer a bumper crop of failure and one incredibly slim speculative chance at a 10x return. And there’s not much room for speculation when you know exactly how much a product is profiting today, and what its growth trajectory will be. (And by “not much” I mean “virtually none.”)
The only investors famous for betting on sure things are just like Warren Buffett — and nobody reads BuffetCrunch. There is no Buffet Disrupt. “My favorite holding period is forever,” says no VC ever.
Fact: Startups are intended to fail at incredibly high rates. They are, by the kindest VC-provided definitions available, an act of frenzied hunting-around. No matter how much money or how many mentors you pump into them, that does not change the facts of their existence: They are inherently random and speculative. And thus wasteful.
It sucks to be cannon fodder, but that’s startups, for you.
If you try to emulate this cycle in your product business, you’re either a glutton for punishment… or poisoned by prolonged exposure to Other People’s Money.
Fact: Startups don’t — can’t — care about users. Startups aren’t actually designed to attract paying customers — you can see that, above, in our little thought experiment. But, you may be saying, they’re sure designed to attract users! Right? Right?
Fact: Startups are designed to attract acquirers. Yes, I lied a bit above… Startups are designed to attract customers. Or, well, one customer: The one who buys the startup. (In an ideal world, two customers, so they can create a bidding war.)
You know that saying, “If you’re not paying for the product, you’re the product”? Well, that’s not nearly cynical enough.
You’re not that desirable to the startup, really; it’s not even really selling you. If it were, it’d treat you at least as well as a prize show animal. You’d get premium feed and regular grooming appointents. No, a startup may be patting you on the head distractedly with one hand, but you are not its precious blue ribbon, not by a long shot.
You’re not the product; you’re so much lower than that. You’re destined for the grist hopper, to feed the actual product (the startup itself). Sometimes the startup smears buckets of your blood on its face and says
“Hey Google, look at my sexy bright red lips, I’m soooo fertile and full of users, don’t you want me?”
— but mostly it just eats you up and shits you out. For fuel. Thus, instead of special care and attention, you get abominable Terms of Service and monetized cow-clicking.
And that’s why…
Fact: Startups don’t have products. A product business lives by the customer and dies by the customer. A product must attract, serve and retain many customers… by making them happy, by helping them do more, achieve more, earn more, save more.
Startups live and die by the customer, too — but their customer is Google or maybe Yahoo, which comes with a completely different set of rules.
This is the real reason most startups are doomed: their only survival strategy is a sugar daddy. And there are thousands of startups, competing for just two or three major sugar daddies. Not good odds, those.
This gets especially confusing when you spend your creative career serving them. You find yourself thinking things like this, found in that essay I’m skewering:
“A dangerous side effect of the myth is that as product designers we think we are automatically going to be good at creating products for ourselves. Not true.”
*snap-checks asbestos underwear* OK, guys. Here’s the thing.
The dangerous side effect is actually this:
Fact: If you work for a startup, doing app design or development or something, you only think you are working on “product.” But you’re not, because with just one institutional customer, the product is the startup itself — all the shiny software is merely an asset. Why else would so many acquirers spindle, bend, mutilate and murder the software and services they buy?
If you work for startups, you and your work are lipstick on a pig.
If you’re lucky, your lipstick finds itself on a Berkshire pig, which Google will want for its tasty, marbled bacon, and maybe they’ll want you, too, to tart up other projects post-acquisition. But most pigs aren’t Berkshire pigs; most pigs are simply, well, pigs.
In reality, most of your startup clients/employers will pivot til they can’t pivot no mo’, and your hard work is extinguished, again.
Thus, it follows that if you’re a consultant to the stars (startups), and the vast majority of your clients go out of business — not because it’s your fault, but because that’s how startups are — then,
- You can know that you’re good at making things from scratch.
- You can believe you’re good at making things pitch- and investment-worthy.
- You can even feel confident in your ability to make your clients happy.
Fact: Without long-term engagement with the real world — without many human, not institutional, customers — you have no idea if you are any good at making or designing products.
A product cannot exist in a vacuum. Without customers, it’s not a product, it’s just a project. With a single, speculative institutional customer, it’s just acquisition bait.
As famed management thinker Peter Drucker wrote, “The purpose of a business is to create a customer.” He elaborated, later, that the purpose includes keep and serve a customer, too. All true. Sub “business” with “product” and it is still true… if not more so. It’s a statement so spare, and simple, that it’s undeniable:
Fact: The purpose of a product is to create a customer. So, if you work for startups, and startups are designed to attract a single (institutional) customer, and yet they don’t even manage to achieve that…
You’re not working on product. Maybe it’s Maybelline.
Of course, when you go from this kind of consulting career to building products, it’s natural and expected that you’re going to do what you know. There’s just one problem…
Fact: What you think you know is wrong. So, naturally you’re going to fail.
You might, for example, think that when attempting to bootstrap a product, this kind of approach makes sense:
“…Even when we spun out our ideas and brought on a full-time CEO and operations team…”
But it doesn’t. This kind of approach only makes sense when you’re risking OPM (Other People’s Money), and even then, only sometimes. As the author discovered:
“…we discovered that the funds needed to get to profitability would eventually bankrupt our core business.”
That’s the problem. VC is essentially a way to keep on doing something that shouldn’t survive, in the hopes that a rescuer will appear.
But waiting for your Magical Business Prince to come is a losing proposition.
Fact: If you treat a product business like a funded startup, you will fail. Then, once you do fail, you may find yourself — having swum so long in the murky pool of startup effluent — colonized by beliefs that prevent you from learning, and keep you doing the same broken things again and again.
Beliefs like this one:
“Even if you’re supremely passionate and you’ve invested all your personal savings and hundreds of late nights to build a beautiful product it still might fail.”
This sentence sounds reasonable, on first read, doesn’t it? It sounds, in a way, humble, and honoring the truth of failure. It makes you want to nod your head and tweet things like, “This.” and “TRUTH!”
But it is full of lies.
How can I say that so confidently? Well…
Imagine a world where you have as much chance of selling your startup as you do of being struck by lightning.
And yet, there is an industry hungry for your labor. Yes, your labor. Everyone’s labor! The industry needs a 10x moon shot, but they don’t have a space program; all they have to bet on are horses. So, naturally, they want to bet on as many horses as possible, because hey, if a thousand monkeys on typewriters can bang out Love’s Labor Lost, maybe one of a thousand horses will turn out to have a rocket booster hidden in its ass.
If this were the world you lived in…
What would the industry need you to believe? It would need you to keep trying and trying and trying and TRYING until you slip the surly bonds of earth… for them.
It would need you to believe that you need to be supremely passionate, almost insanely optimistic, dedicated beyond all measure, willing to invest all your personal savings, and hundreds of late nights… and you’ll still probably fail, that’s part of the thrill, so steel yourself, get up, and try again, there’s no shame in failure, you can do it!
Sounds familiar, right?
So, sadly, you can only conclude that,
Fact: The advice, the beliefs, the truisms you’ve learned in Startupland will not only not help you, they will actively undermine you. I know this is a tough nut to swallow for many; I know because they email me and tweet at me regularly and call me an extremist (and worse). Maybe you, too, think I’m being extreme. Maybe you think I’m biased.
Well, here’s a question for you: If the purpose of a business is to create a customer… where’s the customer?
In the 1,912-word post I’ve been debunking, the word “customer” appears just once.
Remember, now, that the post is a recitation of the author’s agency’s failures at making profitable (paying) products despite many attempts.
That’s a topic where you’d expect the word “customer” to appear more than once, don’t you think? Somewhere? But no — just once.
Is that single appearance about the author’s customers, or the customers they attempted to create with their doomed (but passionate!) products?
No, of course — rather than analyzing his own business, the author is arguing (poorly) that 37signals shot themselves in the foot:
“Now [37signals’] very customers were distracted from the [consulting clients] that made [Basecamp] necessary in the first place.”
I’ll leave it to you to decide if 37signals shot themselves in the foot, or if they are, in fact, more profitable than ever. Back to lexicological analysis:
- “product” appears 36 times
- “idea” appears 7 times
- “passion” appears 4 times
- “customer” appears 1 time
This is the legacy of living too close to the nuclear reactor that is Startup Island. Your brain — irradiated with lethal levels of PASSION!! — has forgotten somebody. Who? Oh, nobody special, just the person whose Magical Wand of Commercial Alchemy can transform your fun toy project into a Real Business.
It’s so easy to overlook what isn’t there.
Fact: Peter Drucker is rolling in his grave. But not because 37signals “distracted” their customers. No, Peter Drucker is rotating in his tomb because the startup world continues to perpetuate the lie that it knows anything about “products” — all the while de-skillifying the designers and developers who work for it.
And making them like it.
All that said: There’s hope, you know. Yes, you can overcome your startup roots and make things people actually want to pay for — and succeed doing it, too. Yes, you will have to unlearn a lot of things. Yes, you will have to become a beginner again. Yes, it will be hard and not especially pretty.
But, if you’ve spent your professional life claiming, “I love solving hard problems,” here’s your chance to prove it.
What should you do first? Well, for starters, you should steal this astute mantra from the 37signals:
We’re not designers, or programmers, or information architects, or copywriters, or customer experience consultants, or whatever else people want to call themselves these days…
Bottom line: We’re risk managers. Designers who sell ‘design,’ programmers who sell ‘code,’ information architects who sell ‘diagrams’ are selling the wrong thing. The thing to sell is reduced risk for the client. That’s what people want.
— SvN, Aug 2003
This is the philosophy they evolved that enabled them to build a desirable product, Basecamp, which they used to lift themselves out of consulting. You know, the transformation that was “mythical”.
This philosophy does double duty:
First, it focuses the mind beautifully: What does the customer need?
Second, it also explains why consulting for startups is a mind-altering drug — and a dangerous one, at that:
Startups are made of risk. They’re risk generators. If you could actually reduce startup risk, does that even make any sense? A low-risk startup would make customers, make money, fund itself, and grow slowly. You might even call it a business. Which means it’s not a startup, just a business that is… new.
Which is why my motto is: Fuck startups. Focus on the customer. Relentlessly. That’s how you create something people want to buy.
Once again to quote Peter Drucker (the man was a genius):
Entrepreneurship is “risky” mainly because so few of the so-called entrepreneurs know what they are doing. They lack the methodology. They violate elementary and well-known rules. This is particularly true of high-tech entrepreneurs.
What does this have to do with real estate? All of these supposed enterpreneurship comes with ties to an institution like Hopkins or University of Maryland Medical Center----or sends you to the CLOUD leaving very little actual private real estate for these small business people. They are building non-profit small business centers ------nothing that will stay in that community over time and expand. It is done deliberately because they are buying and handing large sectors of communities to these global corporations that will allow them to sit there until these policies roll out.
We do not want huge global factories covering what used to be communities of small businesses and working class families----look at the Inner Harbor----that may have been run down----but it was filled with small businesses now with national chains employing people at poverty wages. These global campuses will be worse.
Look at the structure of non-profits being that of corporations no longer paying taxes but creating businesses that control social issues and replace the public sector---that is what is being installed in all of this city non-profit policy. It creates patronage and take away people's status as citizen and it takes away from established community facilities. You don't own the real estate-----and that funding can go away at any time.
THIS IS WHAT THEY MEAN BY NEW WORLD ORDER----THE RICH HAVE ALL THE MONEY AND THEY CONTROL THE PUBLIC THROUGH NON-PROFITS. THE PEOPLE DO NOT OWN REAL ESTATE OR BUSINESSES. This is not socialism----it is corporate patronage.
Women and people of color are overwhelmingly being pushed to this because they are the ones having lost most of the jobs with no plan to replace those jobs.
Journal of Civil Society Volume 3, Issue 2, 2007 Citizens, Partners or Patrons? Corporate Power and Patronage Capitalism DOI:10.1080/17448680701554233 Bryn Jonesa* pages 159-177
The addition of new social roles in public service and civil society to large business corporations' enormous economic power and substantial political influence suggests novel but little-understood changes in the institutional relations between business, state and civil society. Sociological emphasis on the centrality of power relations in business conduct and radical diagnoses of a corporate ‘take-over’ of public and civil society institutions is contradicted by other literature which portrays corporations as socially responsible benefactors rather than all-powerful behemoths. The present analysis assesses rival emphases on power relations and normative shifts toward corporate social responsibility in the sphere of business–civil society partnerships. It argues that, in the United States and Britain, a new set of institutional relationships is emerging to fill a vacuum in tackling social and environmental problems. In this new institutional field, large corporations are taking on the role of patrons to a variety of clients amongst public and civil society organisations. This social relationship parallels similar episodes of patronage when systems of community and public welfare disintegrated during the rise of capitalism.
- Here is what you see coming to underserved communities-----large rentals with campuses for health and education right there at the complex.......guess that is why Clinton neo-liberals are closing all the schools in underserved communities-----private corporations are going to provide all that the public sector used to all while no one owns real estate or has a private business owning real estate. That is to what the Urban League tied to the Wall Street development firms are looking towards---that is what Obama and his HUD is funding.
STOP ALLOWING THESE GLOBAL POLS TO INSTALL ALL OF THESE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ZONE POLICIES MOVING AMERICANS TO THE STATUS OF DEVELOPING NATIONS.
New $800M Fund To Target Multifamily in Underserved Communities
- May 9, 2013 Katie Hinderer Comments 0 LOS ANGELES—Canyon Capital Realty Advisors and Citi have come together to starts a real estate fund that will focus on multifamily workforce housing in underserved communities throughout the United States. Over the next several years, the Canyon Multifamily Impact Fund will acquire and manage up to $800 million in apartment communities. Investments will be between $20 million and $90 million.
“Amid increased housing costs across the United States, the need for quality workforce housing near employment centers is higher than ever,” said Dan Millman, principal at Canyon Capital Realty Advisors, in a statement. “We are focused on acquiring and improving well-positioned properties that offer affordable rental housing options for local residents. We look forward to eventually creating an even bigger impact on underserved communities across the country.”
The fund will maintain CCRA’s triple bottom-line method, looking for assets that achieve sound financial returns, advance community development, and embrace environmental responsibility. The first step will be to identify and evaluate urban properties in California, Texas and Illinois.
Beyond acquisition, the fund will also implement physical upgrades and property management improvements on the properties acquired. The team also plans to set up education, healthcare and security programs that will serve both the residents and the surrounding community. Programs could include things like afterschool tutoring, employment assistance, community sports, and neighborhood watch.