Keep Chicago 2016, channel to a better social vision

2016-chicago-olympics-logoAn excellent article by Dennis Byrne in the Tribune, and well worth the read.  The civic support for this Olympic vision was significant… if we could channel that into meeting Chicago’s social needs then something great could be achieved.

Keep the name — Chicago 2016 — signaling the community’s intent to create a bright new city, without the motivation of securing the Olympics. Imagine if the same levels of skill and determination were put to use raising bushels of cash for the things that Chicago hasn’t been able to afford.

Money for cash-strapped civic and charitable institutions. Money for badly needed new ones. Not only would these institutions no longer have to worry about their own revenues from charitable contributions getting gobbled up by the Olympics, but also they would enjoy additional funds from the New Chicago 2016 effort.

Chicago’s a great, world-class city, and I’m proud it’s my home.  But there are far too many social needs unmet.

I’ve now seen first hand the abysimal state of public education in our community, and the news is full of crime and violence from kids without real stakeholders willing to engage them. 

If just a portion of Chicago 2016’s passion, organization, money and private sector effort were to go toward real education reform, the community could break cycles of poverty and empower generations of future leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators in the community.

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The new Courier interface and “Infinite Journal”

I’ve longed for a cool tablet that I could carry with me, something more than a phone can handle, smaller than a laptop and my interactive than a netbook.  I thought my gadget-itch might eventually be scratched by Apple, with essential an over sized Iphone.  But now this new secret Microsoft project is leaked… a tablet/journal thing with a really well done user experience. This might be the first truly innovative and well designed thing Microsoft has released in a long time.  Could it be? Is this this the gadget of my dreams (yeah, geeky dreams)?

Courier User Interface from Gizmodo on Vimeo.

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2009 SmartBet raised more than $100k on behalf of charities

2009 SmartBet Winner with the organizers

The SmartBet organizers gather around Brad Chestler who beat out 300 poker players and helped raise more than $100k for Chicago charities last night. Congrats to Brad… and a HUGE thank you to the organizing team… you guys are great to work with…… four years into SmartBet tourneys, you have really achieved a fun event for great causes, and it’s my pleasure to serve with you.

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4th Annual SmartBet Charity Tournament for Chicago

SmartBet 2009

SmartBet 2009

The fourth annual SmartBet charity poker tournament ( will be held September 17th in the Chicago Cultural Center. 

And great news… this year one of the prime beneficiaries will be CAAT, the Chicago Academy of Advanced Technology ( This is the new public high school focused on technology and entrepreneurship that we’ve worked so hard to launch.  I’m proud to tell you the school opens on September 8 for our new freshman class!

The SmartBet poker tournament is a blast… hundreds of local technology executives and entrepreneurs, an open bar, great food and a staff of professional dealers. You don’t have to be a poker star to play… beginners are welcome, and will definitely have fun.

SmartBet supports charities that develop young people to become Chicago’s future technology leaders. This year the three primary charities are CAAT, i.c. Stars and Future Founders… all great programs that are making a huge difference for the future of our community and industry.  All together, seven charities will benefit from your generous support.

Would you buy a table for $2500, and bring along your friends and associates to play?  Or for a little bit larger donation, we’ll seat you at our special “High Rollers for Charity” table, where I promise you’ll have a great time and help these wonderful charities in our tech community.  Or if you just want to come alone and show off your poker skills, single seats are available for $250.

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Support for Children’s Memorial Hospital Car Raffle

My family spent far too many nights at the foot of a hospital bed with my sister Hilliary throughout her life, and I know the important work of a place like Children’s Memorial Hospital. I’m happy to be a member of the Corporate Board of Children’s Memorial Hospital, and show support however I can.

The annual car raffle is a great fundraiser that has a direct impact on kids and families in the hospital. Plus, the odds of winning one of seven cars is great!  Only 7,000 tickets will be sold… buy one today. Good luck!

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ITA Chairman’s Dinner on Education

UPDATE: This even has been postponed to August to acomodate a larger gathering. More details will be announced soon.

If you’re interested in attending this invitation-only dinner and discussion, please feel free to contact me or register through the ITA.

Education and the Competitiveness of Chicagoland Companies

Two Million Minutes trailerWe’ll enjoy a private screening of the documentary Two Million Minutes, which compares the high school education of students in China, India and the United States.

America faces a crisis in education, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM education). Right here at home, Chicagoland students fall well behind their counterparts around the globe. Nothing has a more direct impact on future competitiveness and innovation for our companies, and private sector leaders can become engaged as part of the solution today.

Two Million Minutes: a four year high school education

ITA Chairman’s Dinners are roundtable discussions where we dive deep on an important subject, and everyone contributes.

Dinner guests include Rick Stephens, senior executive at Boeing and a nationally engaged volunteer on education, Glen Tullman CEO of Allscripts and an education reform advocate, and Bob Compton a successful tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist, and producer of the documentary.

Your chance to influence curriculum, and the new Chicago high school for technology and entrepreneurship

We will also discuss local efforts like the new Chicago Academy of Advanced Technology (CAAT), a public high school opening in September with heavy involvement from the private sector.

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Risk Aversion is the Antithesis of America

… one danger facing the U.S. was that “we could become a risk-averse nation. The entire mood of the country has swung from taking wild risks to taking no risk,” he observed. “And that could be bad for the country.”

An spot on post by Lane Wallace. The entrepreneurial spirit is what made America.  Many people can’t relate to a willingness to risk everything in search of exploration, innovation and accomplishment.

If the risks taken are going to bring down an entire financial system for the rest of us, that’s one thing. But if an informed explorer is willing to put their own life, fortune … or even, to quote a memorable document, their sacred honor … on the line for a cause, technology, or chance they think is worth it … perhaps we should rethink our knee-jerk reflex to keep them safer than they wish to keep themselves.

During an economic crisis many people will lose the job security they assumed, and some will turn to entrepreneurship as a stop gap.

NASA managers speak of a balancing act called “risk versus reach.” Too little reach, and you discover nothing significantly new. Too much risk, and you lose the craft and people you need to do the exploring, and you discover nothing at all.

The real key to recovery will be entrepreneurs by choice, not those thrust into self-employment by economic times.  How far an entrepreneur is willing to “reach” without reckless risk is the metal of success.

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