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An informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur

Billboards That Made Me Think
By Paul Tomori
Friday, April 10, 2009 at 16:56:48 (EDT)

As my family flew home from a winter getaway, I recently drove the family car alone from South Florida to Niagara. I love a long drive. Where else do you get such a nice long uninterrupted stretch of think-time? Additionally, the stereo in the car I drove (a BMW X3) is better than any home stereo I have ever owned... even when I was a professional musician. How ironic. When I was in the music business, it was all I could do to keep my drumsticks fresh and my drum-heads not too pock-marked. Alas, that was another life ago and I have been very happily in this wonderful internet business since 1994.

Along my drive, a few notable billboards caught my eye:

Divorce Happens
This was a billboard for a law firm that no doubt specializes in appealing to the more vulnerable folks who are contemplating a split. Don't you think it attempts to eliminate personal responsibility for such people? The implication is not that "you have failed to choose a suitable partner to spend your life with". Rather, they suggest that a split-up somehow just happens... like an accident or something. In an age where taking personal responsibility is somehow the last thing people will consider, this billboard is no doubt quite appealing to some folks.

Slow Food!
This was a billboard for a mom and pop restaurant that obviously was looking to resonate with people like me who can only stomach McDonalds a couple of times a year. I think that 100 years from now, people will look back and say "what were those people at the turn of the millennium thinking eating all that garbage food?" Seriously, every roadside stop had McDonalds, Wendys, Burger King, KFC... and the other usual fastfood suspects. You'd have to drive 5 miles into a city to get to a restaurant that served real "SLOW" food. I don't think it will take much really. There is a great "reasonably fast" SLOW FOOD restaurant that serves excellent food that has emerged in the USA in the last few years. It's called Panera. There is actually one nearby in Niagara Falls New York on Niagara Falls Boulevard by Target and Barnes & Noble. You can get a gourmet sandwich, salad and soup quickly and for prices just slightly above the greasy alternatives. I have this rustic opinion that nothing beats a cast-iron pan, a wooden spoon and an open-flame. You will be less likely to burn something in a cast-iron pan, because the heat is much more constant (plus who wants to have flakes of teflon in their food?!). The wooden spoon will never melt and give off toxic plastic substances... And the open flame gives you instant heat that you can control more accurately. For those who pursue gourmet perfection in the quest for good slow food, I think they'd agree wholeheartedly.

Jobs Become Obsolete. Talent Does Not.
This billboard was for a school in Boca Raton. The message is very timely, even if it isn't entirely accurate (after all, how many "talented" blacksmiths do we need these days?). I agree strongly with the notion that one should always be advancing one's knowledge (and talent). This idea is not new, but in these days of big layoffs and industrial down-sizing, knowledge workers are increasingly becoming the dominant winners. Knowledge workers are the ones with the better hedge against economic downturns. Knowledge workers get the most opportunities.

The conclusion:
Keep educating yourself or the only work you'll have is burger flipping which could lead to divorce (which might just "happen" as a consequence!).

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