Monday, June 29, 2009

All the news that’s fit to Twitter.

Iran’s government is doing all it can to keep the outside world from finding out what’s happening inside Iran. Reporters have been arrested, kicked out and certainly not let back in.

Yet news is getting out. How?

Twitter. The whole world is watching via dispatches of 140 characters or less.

It’s easy to make fun of Twitter. For many, it’s posting something like “Just picked up a latte then picking up dry cleaning.” Z-z-z-z-z-z.

To their credit, more and more news organizations are incorporating Twitter into their operations.

To the credit of computer savvy citizens of Iran, we’re learning first-hand about the incredible courage and bravery it takes to stand up to an authoritarian regime like that of Iran.

This isn’t about technology trumping tyranny but the people with the courage to use that technology.

The Twitter heard ‘round the world.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Is social media making us less social?

We’ve been reading and hearing a lot about social media these days. One of my favorite cartoon strips, Zits, has had more than a few themes dealing with Jeremy texting his mom and dad instead of talking to them. Even when he’s in the same room.

With Facebook®, MySpace, Twitter and the myriad of Web 2.0 web sites available, it looks like it might be too much of a good thing.

I just read results by the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California. They’ve been studying time we spend with our families, and the numbers aren’t good. According to results released last week, Annenberg says 28 percent of Americans surveyed are spending more time away from their families. That’s up from 11 percent in 2006.

It’s no surprise the same study shows teens spending more time than ever online.

Not that many years ago television was blamed for cutting into family time. But at least families can watch television together. Not so much surfing the Net unless you're texting or Twittering across the kitchen table.

In a way today’s technology, from PDA’s to social sites, allows parents to keep tabs on their kids more than ever.

But nothing beats face time. One-on-one conversation. “How was your day?” comes across much better in person, rather than texting.

Like everything else, it’s all about balance. We’re in our 22nd year of business here at Video Professor, teaching people how computing saves time for more important things.

So enjoy the technology. Twitter away, but make a point of carving out regular family time where you can be in a real room instead of a chat room, where you can reach out and hug a loved one rather than text them.

It’s all about balance. Keep family in the mix.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Monday, June 15, 2009

New era for entrepreneurs?

I blogged earlier about the uncertain future facing a lot of graduates this year; jobs are tight.

Listening to an interview recently between Colin Cowherd of ESPN® and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban about entrepreneurship got me thinking back to my first days in business.

Cuban thinks we may have a new era of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship isn’t exclusive to the United States, but we’re as good at it, if not better, than anyone else. Every time the economy has gone down, Cuban says, entrepreneurs have built it back up bigger than ever.

I agree.

The Merriam-Webster® dictionary describes an entrepreneur as “One who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” I’ll get back to a keyword in that description in a moment.

Cuban made the point that new graduates choosing to start their own businesses better get used to continuing to live like college students! He believes there is some young person out there who will come up with the next big thing. People believe that if Bill Gates and Michael Dell (or even the Video Professor) could do it, they can to.

Despite the ads you see about “being your own boss,” showing pictures of people lounging around swimming pools enjoying the good life, starting a business from nothing is hard work. There is no time to spend around swimming pools, and after long days, get used to sleepless nights. A lot of them.

Okay, back to the description of entrepreneurship. Look at the word “Risk.” There are no guarantees of success. The huge majority of start-up businesses fail in the first year.

We here at Video Professor are in our 22nd year of business. I wouldn’t change one bit of the experience. Were there tough times? Absolutely, but great times as well.

I started out as a contractor when I moved to Colorado. Then, I began manufacturing PC-clone computers. Customers came back to us asking for an alternative to complicated operating manuals. There weren’t any. So we created our own. The solution to a problem became my business.

What I did learn is that if you keep on showing up, surround yourself with talented and dedicated people and, oh yes, put any thoughts of hanging around the swimming pool out of your head, you can succeed. Just about every day other people will tell you to give it up, that you can’t go on. Don’t listen to them. Listen to yourself.

So, for you kids with diplomas and resumes in hand, but the hiring doors shut, take stock of yourself. What are you good at? Is there a service you can provide to others that is unique, special and affordable? Are you willing to start from your kitchen table or your parents’ kitchen table? Are you willing to eat a lot of peanut butter knowing the steak might come later?

If so, go for it. This is a good time to become an entrepreneur. I look forward to “trying YOUR product.”


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

June 6, 1944 and June 6, 2009

This past Saturday we marked the 65th anniversary of the Allied landings on Normandy. Yanks, Brits, Canadians, Free French and many other nations landed on those beachessecuring a beachhead that led to the demise of the Third Reich. Many never made it off the beach alive, or if they did, were horribly injured.

These brave soldiers, sailors and airmen fought tyranny, believing that freedom was far superior. History has proven them right over and over again.

The tanks, jeeps, etc. they used were manufactured by companies like General Motors® and Chrysler®. Detroit automakers, like so many other businesses, retooled for the war effort.

When the war ended, many of those who survived went back to work in those plants, building the cars that had become legendary, and the envy of the world.

I wonder how those few survivors still left would think about the current circumstances with GM® and Chrysler. GM government-owned, Chrysler managed by an Italian company. Those circumstances dictated by the government.

I wonder how these members of the “Greatest Generation” who came back and believed in paying cash for cars and houses and living well within their means while they built America would feel about our impending $10 trillion deficit.

I wonder how this generation who defined self-sufficiency would feel about paying the bills of those who spent foolishly, made bad decisions and got deep in debt, thinking that life was a free ride.

I wonder.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Monday, June 01, 2009

Pomp and Circumstance: 2009 Edition

Based on the number of decorations and balloons, etc. I’ve seen in neighborhood front yards, a lot of kids are graduating either from high school or college.


Congratulations to the Class of 2009!


Chances are good that you’ve been told about the challenging economic times ahead and the uncertain job market, etc. You’re not the first.


My parents lived through the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Compared to that, what we’re experiencing today is a mere blip.


I graduated from high school in 1965 and from college in 1971. The 1960’s were the most turbulent time in our history since the American Civil War. President Kennedy was assassinated, as was his brother, Senator Robert Kennedy. Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also fell victim to the sniper’s bullet.


The Vietnam War was tearing the country apart.


Yet, the generations of those times survived and thrived. It’s what Americans do best.


No doubt you’re getting all sorts of advice. I’m going to chime in with some as well based on my own experience running businesses ever since I got out of college.


The world doesn’t owe you a living.

Despite what you’ve been reading, the government doesn’t owe you a living and won’t pay your bills. It doesn’t have the money. Now that you have a degree, it’s time to start your new life. My sense is that your generation will be a truly entrepreneurial one. Maybe you’ll be the ones to figure out how to make money with social networking sites!


Beware of marble floors.

When you show up for a job interview, unless you’re applying at a museum, be wary of marble floors and fancy paintings in the lobby. It means that the business is spending money on things that don’t build the business. Not a good sign.


Save for a rainy day.

I just read about a former news anchor that had been making $250,000 a year when he lost his job due to the downturn in the broadcasting business. Six months later he was borrowing money to make car payments. Don’t let rainy days, Mondays and layoffs get you down.


Beginning with your first paycheck, start your “Rainy Day Fund.” I guarantee you that it will rain sometime during your life. Very likely more than once!


Companies today that will survive tomorrow, like Dell®, Google® and Yahoo! ®, all have plenty of cash reserves, in the tens of billions of dollars. It’s raining, and that cash makes a great umbrella. They don’t need bailouts, nor do they want them. They understand the free enterprise system is a tough one, but since 1776 it’s the system that has worked best.


It works in baseball; it will work for you.

Don’t worry about hitting homeruns when you start your career. Concentrate on singles and doubles and watch out for strikeouts and errors. Focus on the basics and the homeruns will come soon enough.


So good luck to the Class of 2009. I wish you every success. We’re going to need you to help pay the bills that the government is running up today. (So will your kids, by the way.)



John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at