Category: NYC

How to Create 10,000 Jobs?

How do you create 10,000 jobs?

Train 500 brewers.

Originally, I was going to write:

Train 10,000 teachers.

Without teachers, you can't create jobs.
The US of A need teachers.

Despite the overwhelming need for teachers [1], the profession currently is looked down upon in the United States and people don’t understand that if you don’t invest in education, you’re not investing in the future. (Cynically, I understand the reason the United States doesn’t emphasize education more is that an educated populace is harder to control *cough* I mean, govern.)

I was also going to write:

Train 10,000 farmers.

Winslow Homer's painting harkens back to a hallowed time
Winslow Homer’s The Veteran in the Field shows something we desperately need – farmers.

It might not sound like a sexy profession, but it is a growth industry and will be for some time. By 2050, we’ll need to feed a planet of 9 billion people. And we’ll need to do it in the face of severe climate change and water shortages.

The American farmer is on average 58 years old.

This is of concern because no matter how much automation, robotics, and big data impact farming, you still need people to run those farms. Food security is an issue

So, I looked at the question a bit differently:

What would be the minimum number of people we could train to have a massive impact on jobs now and in the future?

[Digression: When we talk about creating jobs, we’re talking about creating employees. Others have pointed out, no employers wants to hire employees. Plus, most people hate their jobs. This is a big part of the issue with current job growth models. So, instead of talking about creating jobs, let’s talk about creating entrepreneurs and business owners. Luckily, this is something that Americans excel at.]

So in thinking about the answer, I thought about sectors that are currently experiencing high-growth and create value with fewer people.

Right now, biotechnology makes up nearly 3 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product. It contributes more to the US GDP than mining and utilities – and almost as much as construction.

Over the past decade, biotech grew on average more than 10 percent per year, much faster than the rest of the economy. Biotech also requires fewer people to create significant value.

If you can imagine a small team developing a valuable medicine, an industrial enzyme, or a modification to a plant – all of those are potentially worth billions of dollars.

For most people, biotech is scary [2] but brewing beer is not.

Brewing is biotechnology…

distilled to its simplest form (and yeah, I did intend that pun). Fermentation is the oldest form of biotechnology and we’ve been doing it for 9,000 years

Back in the day, brewing was a respectable profession.
Brewing in the Middle Ages

A brewer takes ingredients that have little value separately – water, grain, and hops – and creates something of value. (That sounds a lot like pulling money out of thin air, which is what good entrepreneurs do.)

Over the past few years, microbreweries have exploded. In Brooklyn where I live, I’m surrounded by three – Brooklyn Brewery, Other Half and Sixpoint. New York City counts more than 30 breweries.

Americans live, on average, less than 10 miles from a microbrewery
Image source:

I can’t find the stat, but I’ve read that all Americans now live within ten miles of a microbrewery.

What are the trickle down effects?

A microbrewery employs at least a few people. They have to buy the grain and hops which someone has to grow and process that requires more people, some farmers.

New York State once was the leading producer of hops. Now it's Oregon and Washington.
Hops growing on Long Island

For example, New York state used to be the epicenter of U.S. hop production. The industry, destroyed by mildew-related disease and Prohibition, moved West. But now, the New York hops industry is re-emerging. (It’ll take a while to make a dent in the industry, NY grow only 300 acres, while Oregon and Washington State are growing some 400,000 acres of commercial hops). The microbrew boom is driving the farming of hops.

But doesn’t that mean the market is saturated?

I don’t know much about the specific outlook for breweries but since it involved biotechnology, making the jump from brewing to fermentation would be a small leap. The next leap would be to distributed biological manufacturing.

Back in 2001, Rob Carlson described distributed biological manufacturing as means of producing many of the things we used today. That means people who are trained as brewers can easily learn to brew items that are potentially of much greater value than beer.

Adidas Futurecraft is made of spider silk and is completely bio-degradable.
Adidas is the first shoe company to use completely sustainable, vegan, super-strong spider silk.

For example, Bolt Threads is one of three synthetic biology companies that has genetically engineered yeast to produce spider silk – one of the strongest materials created by nature. That silk can be used to produce jackets, shoes, and bulletproof vests. And those are only a few of its uses.

In 2015, Stanford researcher Christina Smolke made the news for engineering yeast to produce opioids. Today, it takes one year to produce hydrocodone from poppies that are legally grown in Tasmania. At the time there was some debate as to whether such technology would be abused, say by drug cartels. The bigger debate should probably have been how do you give access to people who have no access to painkillers. Smolke and her team started a company, Antheia, whose mission is to make and fairly provide medicines to all who need them.

It’s not a stretch to imagine brewers being able to produce very high value products very easily.

So, if you want to have a massive impact on the economy, train 500 brewers.

[1] I am happily married to a public school art teacher and come from a family of educators.

Update: Right after I posted this, Forbes ran an article which projected cannabis industry jobs would surpass traditional manufacturing jobs by 2020. Update 2: A month later, Fortune ran a story claiming the future of food would look a lot like brewing beer.

[Thanks to Johnny Bohimer and John Cumbers for their contributions and advice on this.]

Mobile-First Mindset: Mast Mobile Sells Innovation

An application that allows users to have a business and a personal number on one device.

It’s surprising, really. That the common problem of enterprise sales people and freelancers who juggle two phones with different numbers hasn’t been resolved before. Mast Mobile is a mobile carrier that solves that neatly. And for salespeople who must log salescalls into a customer relationship management tool, Mast streamlines calling and enables more comprehensive reporting. It also allows them to reset their work-life balance.

At Monday’s Business Enterprise Meetup in Manhattan, Mast Mobile’s co-founder Peter Lurie, described how the mobilization of the workplace drove the creation of the solution.

According to Lurie, “The traditional [mobile] carriers offer few differentiated services because they are not software companies. This leaves a huge space open for innovation.”

Implications for Life Sciences Marketing?

As a life sciences marketer, I couldn’t help but wonder how a technology like Mast’s could be applied in the biopharmaceutical industry. Perhaps more importantly, how innovation in mobile will serve as one of the transformative forces in healthcare along with digital health and personalized medicine. I’m very closely watching how digital creators are addressing the coming physician shortage, leveraging technology to transform the practice of clinical trials, and how the use of digital tools will transform medicine.

In a followup conversation with Mast’s co-founder David Messenger, we discussed the expansion of the service to include international numbers as well as why marketers in all industries need to quickly adopt a “mobile first” mentality. (David’s written a nice post on Why Isn’t Your Phone Number as Flexible as Your Email.)

My company, messagingLAB, is counseling all our life sciences clients that they need to adopt a mobile first mindset in all communications. What are you doing?

Your Founder Is Crazy, Isn’t He? (Part 1)

Is your founder crazy? Insane? Bonkers? How can you tell?At the beginning of the week, the Founder swore he’d have me back on payroll by the end of the month. It’d been six weeks since any of us had been paid.

“What about the options?” I asked.

“I’ll take care of those by the end of the week,” he answered. It was the same answer I’d heard every month for a year – the length of time I’d been working there.

That whole week, my other co-workers were in a bad mood and nothing seemed to go right. It wasn’t one thing that had put us in a bad mood – it was a series of little things: The tone of voice the founder took when asking about a client, how he disappeared from the office for a week, how he wouldn’t return phone calls.

Yet I continued to hold out. We continued to hold out. Just a few months earlier, we had all believed in the company we were building. We believed in the founder and we would have followed him into any battle.

My hand, my right hand – my writing hand – was sore and bothering me. Every little thing pissed me off and I was yelling at my kids and my wife all the time.

The next day, the CFO called, “There’s something I need to tell you… I feel super shitty about this but every other week I have to release the funds.”

“What funds?”

“The funds to pay the president. The president is still getting paid.” The CFO told me he’d had a conversation with the Founder who admitted he had to continue to pay the President so he wouldn’t get distracted.

“Distracted from what?” I asked. “Isn’t a startup CEO, a startup president supposed to feel the same pain as his team?”

“You know the founder hasn’t taken a salary in years. He hadn’t paid his mortgage until the investors stepped in. They almost turned off his lights.”

I was sitting alone in the conference room. The President, the one guy who was getting paid in the company, was down the hall in a shared office. Presumably on the phone.

I felt my stomach rise into my mouth. I no longer felt comfortable there.

“I can’t talk about this any more,” I told the CFO. I hung up and left.

I almost vomited in the elevator down.

I took the subway home, tasting my sour stomach the whole way, praying I wouldn’t become one of those people that vomited and caused a medical emergency shutting down the entire Brooklyn-bound F-train line. I had a sense that drowning in alcohol might help but my stomach was so wrecked I knew it would only make things worse. No matter how much I imagined I’d drink I knew alcohol couldn’t drown away the anger and erase the disappointment.

When I got home, Alejandro was there to greet me. I mentioned that my hands and stomach were hurting because of the stress.

“How is that even possible?” he asked. Only an innocent fourteen-year could ask such a question.

I explained that stress can manifest in your body, that you can feel the fight that happened before you walked into a room. At that moment, the stress was manifest in my stomach and the part of my body I used to make my living. He looked at me like I was crazy and I realized that I was but didn’t have to be.

The next day I didn’t go back.


Brooklyn Beetle on Eighth Street

NSA Art Project


With the National Security Agency’s new open source face recognition API, take a selfie, upload it to their database and begin searching for your twin(s).

Armed with a series of matches, create photographs and profiles based on available online data and post to your heart’s content.

Bonus points for using genomic information to find your twin(s).


Dub: Best Dressed Chicken in Town

BestDressedChickenIn my world, Dr. Alimantado (born Winston Thompson, AKA The Ital Surgeon) and his Best Dressed Chicken in Town was my introduction to reggae long before I realized the power of Catch-A-Fire-Bob-Marley, Legalize-It Peter Tosh and Roast Fish Collie Weed & Corn Bread Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Public Image Limited’s Jah Wobble’s reggae-influenced thunk-punk bass, morphed into dancehall and reggaeton drilled into my heart, mind and body at live shows and tropical Central America trips where Marley was always and will probably always be blastin 24/7/365.

Now, right now, it’s Deadbeat’s To Berlin With Love electro-Berlin Dub reggae, Bunji, and Major Lazer. What about tomorrow?