Connecticut Problems (and other business opportunities)

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Problems? Connecticut? Come on. Get real.

Well, there is one: how to survive success.

Consider this scenario. We start at start-up, a beverage company, say. We call it something like “Nantucket nectars,” “Snapple,” or “Odwalla.”

The early days are a trial. Long days, sleepless nights, groaning credit cards, triple mortgages, nervous bank managers, neglected families, and constant, grinding risk.

Slowly the world responds. Our little brand takes off.

We’re a smash hit. After a grueling decade, sales are so good big corporations come calling. Often they don’t always do great product innovation, and with deep pockets they don’t have to. They wait for “naturally occurring” experiments to map the market, and then they reach for their wallets.

Lucky us. This is the big “pay day” we’ve been waiting for. We are 80 million dollars richer. We move to Connecticut, get a house on the water, and wake up one morning to a new question: “what in God’s name have we done?”

Unlucky us. The best thing that can happen turns out to be the worst. We just put our baby up for adoption. The single, enduring, consuming objective of our lives has disappeared. The very point of our existence has been ripped away. This is our existentialist moment.

This is a business opportunity for someone. In a perfect world, we would have seen this moment coming. We would have contracted with a company that specializes in “lifestyle architecture.” This is a team of social scientists (anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, economists, b-school types) called Transformations R Us. Their job is to scrutinize us right down to the ground and to begin building a second career, one that will be ready and waiting, up and running, for the moment of transition.

Transformations R Us creates a perfect second career. This could be what Sundance was for Robert Redford. What Trigger Street might someday be for Kevin Spacey. It might be the foundation Paul Allen created for himself. It might be restaurants in Milan, LA and Mexico City, our favorite cities. It might be a venture capital fund that “seeds” entrepreneurs in the cities of the 2nd and 3rd world. It could be funder of archaeological long shots. (There’s got to be another Troy out there somewhere.)

The transformation that sits waiting for us dock side, one of those 1930’s inboard all-mahogany launches, can be anything and we can play with the details once we climb aboard. It’s chief accomplishment is that it saves us from that terrible moment of entropy that occurs on payday. Whatever it does, it spares us that “who am I, what am I?” moment, and the sudden brown out of purpose and clarity.

I was at a conference recently and wondering through the crowd at the reception was a guy in his 50s who created a brand name known to us all. He still had celebrity power and we were all pleased to meet him. Universities and charities had put him on their boards. People ask him for advice and he still gets “ink.” But there was a distinct note of “yesterday’s man” about him. He had not made the transition. He was merely “keeping busy.” The unhappiness was discrete but palpable.

How much value would Transformation R Us create? How much value could it extract for services rendered? Give me a second and I’ll get the calculator. A lot. That’s my answer. Hang a second. That should be, “really a lot.” We are working for someone who just made 80 million dollars. And we just helped them dodge a bullet and move from joy to joy.

Anyhow, if you want to help start Transformations R Us, send me an email. ( Connecticut has done something to me. I’m looking for a start up opportunity. (Just don’t let me anywhere near the calculator.)