Friday, October 15, 2010


I was sitting on the couch at Lone Wolf last night watching Robert "RJ" Jordan perform with Charlie Selbert. The rhythm and blues duo from Illinois were really quite good and, as it dawned on me that we have finally turned the corner from an operational perspective, I was thinking about the place and how it has evolved in the past year and a half. It's not entirely there, but getting close.

Man, we have put a tremendous amount of energy into Lone Wolf's emergence. Yes, it's a new concept for a reason, one that can be duplicated, one that will eventually take on the likes of Panera/Starbucks in the coffee/transition and breakfast/lunch categories but sit alone in its own category competing for "culturesque" night time business with vibe and intellectual-isms. We have been strategic in the positioning of the brand since the beginning, even though we have had our struggles with the location, the name, the menu and the people we have had running it. We are still making tweaks and changes daily. It has been hard. Frankly, the whole thing has been an experiment and it really is just starting to come alive now, this past month. The Lone Wolf always changes, btw, perhaps someday the name...? The vision is coming to fruition. Bravo to the employees. They "get it" and so now do the customers who stroll in and out daily.

A flexing of the muscles relating to Pfoodman (the company's) ability to tee up and stabilize, has been the key. Obviously we could not have done it without Pfoodman. Pfoodman provides the back office and infrastructure for the development, the functional stuff that keeps things real from a business perspective. Funny though, Pfoodman has grown too; become more proficient, because of the Lone Wolf project; improving on its own infrastructure in the areas of Brand Development and execution of new menu strategies. Now that we have a template for the development of new brands, the process is now centered on filling in the blanks from this point forward. Pfoodman has seven brands, if you didn't know, and we are rolling them all out next fall at a food court located at Lindenwood University at their campus dining services.

Yup the place was full and the vibe was spot on, on a Thursday night. There were wealthy women from West St. Louis County letting their hair down, there husbands nursing premium beers from the bar that Geezer Built. The acoustics in the room were improved a few weeks ago and the sound was out of this world. The stage and lighting provided an interesting focal point on Clayton Road for anyone driving by. Tonight we have Alvin Jett and the Phat Noiz coming. Surely to be a full deal, lots of folks coming to see the blues.

Warning: Pontification below:

I would like to provide a bit of perspective. This from someone who has always had to dance around that which eventually became my my role as a business development professional. My role being that of advancement and placement of energies/resources towards one thing over another, to get a result. I am sharing this with you as an honest reflection of the way I think and, based on my recent talk at Lindenwood on personal branding, in the context of my reference to Dream Vision.

Dream Vision is what a lot of us do, dream the "what if?"...and come up with ideas that might make sense. It is the painting of the canvass and the inking of ideas relating to "what life might look like" if those ideas were posted outright for others to see, a vignet, a short clip of what reality would look like if the vision were to appear. Yeup, this is the easy part, the imaginative process we indulge ourselves in while sitting, gargling coffee or sipping white wine, the possibilities endless, there is very little risk other than someone challenging your "idea" and you having to either change the subject or dig in and defend.

Vision Aptitude is where it gets gooey. It is an arrival point for the entrepreneur, that occasional "kick Ass Dream Vision" taken to the next level, the launching of those ideas into a journey. Are you ready to walk down the garden of forking paths?!!! I don't know exactly when I achieved this, but it was certainly after one of the many "Raising of the Hands" that led me to where I am today--a point where I felt I was capable enough and confident enough to pull something off. The raising of the hand is the launching point. The journey, the goo.

What I find interesting relating to the concept of Vision Aptitude is that very few people are engaged on the same level as the one painting the picture; the one with the aptitude. This person has the call on the way things need to go, the dot connecting, the putting the pieces of the puzzle together in the right sequence. It is often a singular, mono/micro driven journey, piloted by the one who raised their hand, usually the one considered to be the "visionary" of the business or the organization. I didn't set out to be this person while sitting in utter bewilderment in high school, it happened because of a chain of events that forced out the best of my skills. The types of skills that were centered on my Attention Deficient gift from--Ok, lets go ahead and say it, above.

Vision Aptitude is the concept of knowing you have the vision and the trust in your "higher energy" to pull things off. The others in the business or organization, those that are the most important as far as I am concerned, either don't have the aptitude or they lack the patience to understand the process of connecting the dots, that logical piece-of-the-puzzle process that spreads like soft butter for the entrepreneur. The visionaries--those who are the practitioners are the ones who drive purpose. It becomes second nature, intuition.

I don't often take the time to explain anymore, the real big picture stuff. I think a lot of folks find the process to be way over the top. Probably like reading this piece, a little deep and lofty. But honestly, the "feeling" I get about things are centered much more on experience and file recall rather than the coffee/wine Dream Vision. The pulp and/or essence is in the aptitude, the pulp is the experience I have had personally and the essence of things the result of my practicum; what I have learned from my heroes.

Lately, and because of my achievement in Vision Aptitude, I consider it a game, a mysterious I-told-you-so kind of confidence that keeps folks guessing. Now that sounds kind of egotistical don't it? Not really. My patience is indeed a little thinner and I simply prefer to move quicker through the process because of my experience in these things. And frankly, we don't have a lot of time!

I noticed recently that my Dream Vision and the process of connecting of the dots follows its own path, like a template, a "been there before" automation. There is a standard practice, a "take things to the approptiate ceiling level" that falls just short of decision making time. This is the process now, needed in order to make a decision on said intuition. And yes, sometimes the process creates fallout in the personal and/or professional relationship area. I wish we didn't have to have the fallout, but it is necessary to gain the aptitude--to play the game--to sort out the goo.

I think Lone Wolf is a winner and I have come to the conclusion that the only way to appropriately roll out the brand and do it justice is to do it again the exact same way. So the appropriate chronicling can take place and the fallout reduced--so others can get involved and not experience so much of the underbelly hidden, veiled and unmentioned while indulging in the Dream Vision stage. The Vision Aptitude stage is where one must be prepared to deal with reality. And the reality is that once you start the journey, the aptidude begins to appear.

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