Category Archives: St. Paul

Strength & Vibrancy of Twin Cities

There was a display at the Cargill room in the Downtown Minneapolis Library a few years ago, celebrating the sesquicentennial (150 years) of Minnesota. It contained displays showcasing Minnesota’s inventions over the years. They included an extensive array: Medical (pacemakers, etc.. work by Bakken and many others), Computer, Food (wheat varieties created by Borlaug, credited with saving  the lives of millions; zillions of apples and much more at the University of Minnesota). Also random things like the Tilt-a-Whirl, Roller Blades, and Spam (which has, again, saved the lives of millions probably).

The University of Minnesota, one of the original Land-Grant institutions, has been doing everything possible to improve life for Minnesotans – and Everyone – since the 1850’s. I graduated with a degree in Accounting from there. I don’t know if you can tell. Anyway, even with the University’s various campuses and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system,  we have a wealth of smaller Universities and Colleges as well. Truly something for every interest and life path.

We have much more diversity here than others imagine. Minnesota schools  are helping kids learn English in addition to their own languages – 200 different languages are spoken in their homes. Our four main languages in Minneapolis are English, Spanish, Somali and Hmong. We are a vibrant community of cultures, ethnicities, neighborhoods  and communities.

We have a thriving arts community, more theater per person than almost anywhere else, storytelling, dance, live music and much more.

Politically, there’s just no end. But let me just stress our high voter turnout, and leave it at that. Except to also mention politics at its best – the Center for Victims of Torture, based in Minneapolis, doing everything possible to heal the human spirit.

That is one nonprofit of hundreds in Minnesota – part of a thriving nonprofit community that seeks to ensure the vitality and well-being of its citizens and address today’s challenges in coordination with government entities, foundations, benefactors and volunteers; in a way that is transparent and accountable.

We have a thriving technology arena with innovation and real-world application, new breakthroughs and efforts to bring technology’s benefits to as many as possible.

Our Minnesota State Fair is perhaps a good place to stop. For many on the coasts (the reason this post exists, see here and here), the State Fair justifies your belief systems about Minnesota. And, as I’ve said before, there’s a certain level of inevitability about all this which I accept.

Despite that, I’ll just say this: the State Fair is like life.

You have huge numbers of people, all of whom are doing what they want to do for their own reasons. Some have brought to the Fair the best of their years’ efforts – animals, artworks, recipes, large vegetables, seed art. Some have brought information and arguing points to try and change others minds and spark action. Some have brought items to sell, and/or money to buy. Many are artists and performers, there to incite joy, laughter and dancing. Many-many are present to take it all in and have a wonderful time.

There is a little bit of almost everything, and a zillion choices at every turn. You can – as in life – decide what experience you want to have, and then set about to have that experience. Things may go a different way, and you can adapt. There may be streets filled to the brim with unwashed masses – and alternate routes. Long lines at these times, shorter lines earlier/later. Coupons and deals to utilize. Extensive work and volunteer opportunites. Too much heat, rain, cold and blah days, disappointment, social goings-on with drama and heart break, families (in matching t-shirts sometimes) with best intentions, crying babies and their huge baby carriages always in the way, people moving about with assistive technology, people physically adjusting themselves to all those around them constantly, people who’ve been coming to the fair for decades, people who only recently landed in Minnesota and are still just their bearings, breaking technology and the newest in kitchen convenience. It’s all there, it’s all in the Twin Cities, it’s all the same in slightly different ways everywhere.

We are completely engaged in what we’re doing here. You are welcome to join us. It’s ok if you want to keep doing what you’re doing where you are. But we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing our own selves, in any case. Namaste.

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Filed under Business, buy local, Community, Cooking, Entrepreneurship, Food, Fun, Infrastructure, Leadership, Local, Marketing, Minneapolis, Minnesota, NonProfits, St. Paul, Technology, Uncategorized

Rankings – Twin Cities

List of high rankings recently for Twin Cities

(Note, given our inherent modesty, it’s excruciating to pull this all together, but in moments like these the struggle is part of the reward).

Two of America’s Top 12 Cities – BusinessWeek

Bike City – # 1 (Bicycling Magazine)

Bike-Friendly City – #2 – CNN

Best City Park System  – Trust for Public Land

Top Best Cities for Young Adults: # 10 (Forbes Real Estate)

#1 City our size for National Night Out participation

Travel & Leisure: High rankings for multiple aspects including intelligence and summer

Dog Friendly Cities # 10 – Estately

Forbes #23 best place for business and career

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Filed under buy local, Community, Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Resources, St. Paul, Uncategorized

Workings – Accounting

Returning Online Message to the World. Hello World!

I do accounting, and I don’t talk about it. Almost ever anyway. The one time I do talk about it.. well, it’s this blog post! This is my sole episode of self-exposition, hopefully a foundation for the rest of my social media life going forward. There are links to this, so that other main posts can be as pithy as self-awareness suggests they be. I hope this is illuminating to those interested, while still not getting me in any trouble. (Maintaining that delicate balance is strenuous, hence the singularity of this event).

Accounting is a dynamic, variable, and intrinsically-confidential process that most people in the best of times are unaware of. In the current moment, the accounting process has been rendered even more invisible, because of the paradigms that have sprung up around it.

Talking about it in an interesting way that is relevant to others yet also maintains all necessary confidentiality is generally impossible. Despite that, I’m going to share some information about it this one time, in re-joining the social media world after a long absence.

In my work, I create and maintain accounting structures and practices that enable efficient, correct financial transactions; and that also result in those transactions generating a data trail. I do additional steps with sets of transactions at periodic or project-specific intervals, to put that transaction data into specific patterns. And then I turn that data into information, both to meet external requirements and to provide useful organizational and programmatic information to internal managers and staff.

All of that is done within the framework of GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), as well as federal and state laws (regarding payroll, sales tax, and all sorts of other things), particular structures established within specific grants, and the body of established practice within each entity.

A significant part of the work is also engaging productively with the organization itself, participating in relevant decision-making, sharing information, and implementing change proactively; also helping with the organizational work itself sometimes.

All of that happened a certain way when I started out, in the mid- to late- 1980’s. That established ‘normal’ for me. I thought things would always be that way. I imagine now that, if they had, it’s possible I would have ended up in a certain comfort zone, a set of habits and practices within which I would have been content in a static way, and work would have existed within 9-5 and the rest would be my personal life.

Instead, things turned out differently.

These accounting practices in general have since been subject to a series of pressures that I did not at all foresee when I started out – as is the case with many work practices. I may write more about them at some point, but here’s a brief description.

Quickbooks – which I can honestly say I identified as a very mixed change agent right from the very beginning – operates on the basic premise that accounting as a theoretical framework or structured practice really doesn’t exist. Anyone can do it. There are qualifiers inherent in that statement over time, but that’s the basic gist. Anyone can do it, and any negative outcomes from that process are manageable. If outcomes are to be better managed, you can get help after the fact to fix it. (Stop rant now/)

And while I support all small businesses and entrepreneurs, and I know it’s been an effective tool for many to some extent, I am critical of the messaging and the implementation and the reaction to it by the other entities. (And that last part is something I’ll probably never talk about, which leaves a gap, but so be it).

Outsourcing of financial work has been another huge sea change. I only ever briefly worked for ‘Corporate America’ – but the shift from there of people looking for work has been substantive in the arena I do work within. It’s been just as impactful of the shift from the bottom up caused by the Quickbooks mindset. I was angry at India – you know, that one big entity that is India-of-Outsourcing-Fame – for a time; and then ended up in a discovery process with India, and became very fascinated and enthralled. More about that some time too perhaps. Not angry now (not directed there, anyway!).

And the last huge change has been the recession of course, which has had pervasive effects in the number of employment options for everyone everywhere in accounting, and the related pay scales. I know it didn’t affect me nearly as much as so many, but it’s still been quite a change agent in my life.

My mother has worked in organizational consulting in the practice of nursing for several decades; familiarity with her practice and implementation of it has fueled my belief that I could adapt sustainably to this all, and keep going. And I have done that. Some aspects involved have been SWOT, Social Media, continual learning and the serenity prayer.

I’ve considered other options, and explored some, discarding them due to the long lead-in time required, market aspects, investment requirements, my own interests/skills/strengths and so on.

The main other area I was interested in early on, and partway through my college career – computer technology – has also been very over-populated; in addition it’s been dominated by monopolistic entities and the barriers to entry at this point are as high as my interest level today is low. It still works well for me to simply focus on accounting software, and to some extent the relationships with related other software packages, web technologies and operating systems, although I haven’t done as much with that lately.

Writing and everything about the written word – always a primary interest core to my being – remains as an internally-rejuvenating interest only, for the time being at least.

So as a result of those pressures, and those explorations, and every experience to date, I’m still in accounting but it’s quite different from how it was in the 80’s. Not only no more ledger paper (sigh), but organizational paradigms are very different, cost pressures are huge, and regulations/adherence monitoring is much more significant. It’s a 24/7 continually changing social-media-enriched client-focused experience, very different from how I thought my career would be way back when.

I’m continually grateful that I have been able to continue in the practice of accounting, in a sector of it that I’m happy to be in (nonprofits, and entrepreneurial entities), in physical locations that are often Downtown and always transit-friendly, with organizations that are doing great work and people that are truly wonderful.

The social media result is that I’m here, but talking about myself as others do gehts nicht – it’s not going to happen.

I’m thinking now, after being away for a while and within my current complex work situation, that I may write something once a quarter or so, about distillations and non-specific accumulations that might have relevance.

The whole rest of the time though, my online presence is about the goals of my work, which is to support entrepreneurs, creativity, adaptation, communities, and best possible futures. Sometimes that support lends itself to writing, such as new technologies or new impactful situations etc.. but I like to support the writing of others who have invested much time and energy in doing that well also – I respect their commitment to that process.

There, hopefully we’re all still standing and no lasting damage has been done.I know I feel Better.

So you see, my lack of original writing: it’s just the way my work is.

Although I know it’s true – the one constant in life is change!

Comments/feedback always welcome! Thanks for visiting.

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Filed under Accounting, Business, Community, Entrepreneurship, Minneapolis, NonProfits, Social Media, St. Paul, Technology

Site-Member Profile: Helping Survivors Manage!

Year Established: 2009

Business/Organization Name: Helping Survivors Manage

Owner/Executive Director Name: Kat Reed

Product Inception/Business Creation: Kat Reed created this definitive book on what to do when a loved one dies based on her own experiences after her mother’s death, when she discovered the lack of resources available for families facing the struggles inherent in the death of a loved one. She and her predominantly-deaf father experienced first-hand the same challenges that overwhelm so many. Kat decided to do something about it, and using her volunteer hospice experience and prior career in business and communications, she created this helpful resource which fills a much-needed gap for everyone who is a survivor facing these tasks.

Product/Service: Self-help instructional manual for the survivors of a death; death care industry, book and online tools. Begin Here guides survivors through the seemingly overwhelming practical yet necessary tasks that remain after a death, from residential to financial to personal. Leveraging Reed’s unique insights, invaluable suggestions, and organizational skills will help anyone simplify this process.

Unique Features/Competitive Advantage: Nothing else available similar to it in the market for the general public

Contact Information:

Kat Reed
HSM
PO Box 16058
Saint Paul, MN 55116
612.293.6407
kat@HelpingSurvivorsManage.com
http://www.HelpingSurvivorsManage.com
http://www.helpingsurvivorsmanage.com/

Notes/Misc other:
Finalist in the 2009 Midwest Independent Publishers Association Book Awards, Social Science category.

Currently focusing on large businesses to use book as a private label product; part of insurance services; as well as EAP (Employee Assistance Program) for large companies. Plans to expand the version to translate and customize into different languages for use all around the world; customize to religion, relationship, location, cause of death, death circumstance; versions that can accommodate those with disabilities. Also in the beginning stages of developing an “app” for the web and mobile devices. Plans to become and remain the “go-to” organization for after-death care concerning business responsibilities.

Best lessons learned:
A mentor in his late 70s told me that if you don’t keep up with technology, you WILL be left behind by your competitors.

High school art teacher and mentor said, and I always remember, “there is always room for improvement.”

Great ideas are a dime a dozen, what makes one succeed? Research the industry, research the competition, research profitability, research demand for the service/product, then hard work in your product/service; and start all over again, researching and studying every single day.

Asking and more importantly, listening.

If you cannot or will not manage an integral part of your business, (for example, branding/public relations/media) find someone who can and will, and hire it out to them.

Do the math.

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Filed under Business, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Site-Members, St. Paul

Site-Member Profile: Nauen Mobile Accounting

Year Established: 1993

Business Name: Nauen Mobile Accounting

Owner: Lindsay Nauen, M.B.A. (Carlson School of Management), accounting concentration.

Product/Service: A full range of accounting and bookkeeping services for small businesses and nonprofits.

Services include:

Weekly or Biweekly activities including data entry of bank deposits and other entries, running payables checks, payroll and invoicing customers.

Month-End activities including bank and loan reconciliations, financial report preparation, budget and cash flow updating, supplemental reports and journal entries as needed.

Year-End activities including 1099 and 1096 production/distribution as well as the same for W-2’s and and W-3 form. Assistance/preparation of reports required by your CPA. Year-end journal entries and closing procedures as necessary.

Management advisory and Consulting services including projections, budgeting, cash flow reports.

Additional services: Quickbooks, Peachtree & MYOB support (plus others), assistance for your CPA in producing your tax returns and other government reporting, and other business services as needed.

Unique Features/Competitive Advantage: Nauen Mobile is so named because services are provided at *your* location, so you retain control and access to your records, and can easily discuss with the Nauen staff your business questions and financials at your convenience. Also Nauen has a range of staff to exactly meet the needs of your business, at the most optimal rate for you given your business requirements.

Organizational Mission: To provide customized accounting and business services to small businesses and nonprofits who wish to outsource those services.

Organizational Vision: To be accountable to our community, clients, our firm and to each other. To form long-term relationships with our clients. To provide customized services, including on-site work when needed.

Organizational Values: Integrity, Confidentiality, Long-Term relationships, Flexibility, Provide customized solutions, Reasonable prices.

Contact Information:
Website: http://www.nauenmobile.com/
Phone: 651/696-8913.
Address: 241 S. Cleveland Ave., A3; St. Paul, MN 55105.
Email: lindsay@nauenmobile.com

Organizational Development: Visit our recently launched website, created by long-time client: NADA advertising!

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Filed under Accounting, Business, buy local, Community, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Minnesota, Site-Members, St. Paul

Fun Friday: Gay Pride!

Clarity Solutions celebrates Gay Pride for the wellbeing of our entire community.

We urge all citizens of Minnesota to vote NO on the marriage amendment in 2012, and to help organize the defeat of that amendment until then. The constitution is not about discriminating against groups of people. Our community is most well when all members of our community are well.

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Site-Member Profile: E & L Bindery!

Business Name: E & L Bindery

Year Established: 1960

Business Owner: Jeff Dahlin

Product/Service: Custom Hardcover Bookbinding services Unique Features/Competitive Advantage: Serving the niche market of binding and book restoration for individuals, schools, companies & organizations. Print runs for 1 copy to 200 copies.

Examples: Limited Editions binding: Family histories, poetry collections… Professional Journals and Thesis binding: Also includes dissertations, honors projects… Periodicals binding (Newspaper, Bulletin, Newsletter file volumes): Bind those stacks of back issues into protective hardcover volumes for easy storage and reference. Book restorations and repairs,Custom binders, portfolios, and boxes.

Contact Information:
Phone: 651/251-2255
Email: jeff@elbindery.com
Website: http://www.elbindery.com/

Other Community Activities: Jeff Dahlin, owner of E & L Bindery, also participates in the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. At Windrose Mil as “Master LooseLeaf,” Jeff demonstrates the art of bookbinding alongside other specialized artisans who demonstrated paper making, printing and calligraphy. Jeff/Master LooseLeaf has been honored by the King as a Master Artisan over the years.

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Filed under Business, Local, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Publishing, Site-Members, St. Paul