Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Follow-up

I love reading Seth Godin's blog. I'm always finding things there which lead me to changes of viewpoint. In one of his recent missives he talks about the seemingly difficult act of following up with your customers and clients. "Seemingly difficult", because almost no one seems to do it. Of course, his point is that it really isn't that difficult and the simple act of reaching out, human to human, is what will turn a one-time customer into a long-time (or life-time) customer.

I would add that the same holds true in the best kinds of networking. If I can find some way to bring two of my contacts together, I'm the hero -- if everything works out. If it doesn't work out, then I need to know so that I can adjust my approach, adjust my estimation of the skills or needs of one or both people, help one or both to be better able to respond in the future, and/or (if things go horribly awry), help make restitution to save or repair a damaged relationship.

Following up with both the person who needs the service and the one who provides it is the best way I can continue to build and enhance my reputation as the "go to" guy. It builds my network and makes it more likely in the future that I will also receive a great referral.

So, when and in what situations do you follow up?

33 days.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Crossing the Finish Line

Crossing the finish lineActually, I have a bit of a double victory celebration tonight.

First, As of 10:30 this morning, I finished my last physical therapy session for my shoulder. I can now honestly say that the pain they show PT patients going through on television is drastically overblown. In fact, I was talking to Michelle, the young PT who took care of me through my rehabilitation. She told me that there were really only two situations where pain is a part of the therapy. The first is with knee replacement surgery. Apparently it can be quite uncomfortable to get everything stretched back out after the procedure. The other is when you have something called "frozen shoulder". This has nothing to do with the icepacks they use, but rather (from my limited understanding) seems to be caused by a breakdown in the normal mechanisms of the shoulder, the end result of which is you can't lift your arm more than a few inches. I guess if I were in either situation, I'd probably be in a lot of pain anyway, so what's a little more to get back to healthy, right?

Of course, just because I completed my course of physical therapy doesn't mean that I get to just goof off. Michelle gave me a series of exercises to do to continue building the strength in my shoulders so that I won't have to experience this trouble again in the future.

My second crossing of the finish line was that I finished making my list of 101 goals to accomplish in 2007. These include everything from fixing some broken wind chimes that are sitting on my workbench, to going on a trip to Hawaii, to my sales goals for my business. I decided to try this on a recommendation from one of my heroes, Scott Ginsberg. In his article on making lists, he claims that this one challenge can make the difference between a good year and a fantastic year.

I'll try to keep you up to date on how I do in accomplishing these goals. I've already got my first checkmark. I put it next to #2 -- "Make a list of 101 goals".

So, what finish lines have you crossed lately?

33 days.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Preparing A Feast

Table laden with Thanksgiving feastFor those who were concerned that I wouldn't have enough to eat, please see the picture. Given that there were only five of us to sit down to this glorious repast, you can guess that we had a few leftovers. I love leftovers.

JoAnn, my wonderful sister-in-law, with the assistance of my wife, Lisa, and their mother worked for a good two days to prepare this feast. They brined and then roasted the turkey, whipped the potatoes, prepared the stuffing, mashed the yams, etc, etc, etc. They even prepared a Tofurky for my dining delight. I'm deeply thankful to have married into such a wonderful family.

Thinking of them preparing for the Thanksgiving meal makes me think of my own efforts to grow my business, Cyber Data Solutions. I've been doing all the planning and taking the classes to learn how to do what I have to do. Now I've started the actual work of networking and building my word of mouth marketing. Of course, during this part of the process, I only get the occasional small taste and the tantalizing aroma of the meal yet to come. If I've done everything right, all of this preparation will lead to a feast of work in the future. Even better will be all of the "leftovers" as my name continues to be passed along.

Of course, there's always the chance that I'll burn something, but if that happens, I'll just have to learn from the mistake and do a better job the next time. Perhaps that is what makes these celebrations so sweet -- the effort to get everything to come out just right despite the chance that things will go horribly awry.

Anyway, I hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday weekend (assuming you are here in the United States) and that you continue to find things for which to be grateful in your life in the coming year.

So, what did you have for your Thanksgiving feast? Who was there to share with you? For what are you the most thankful?

35 days.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

World Traveler

Lisa at DFW chatting with Jo AnnAs I mentioned before, we are heading down to my sister-in-law, JoAnn's, house for Thanksgiving. I'm writing this from the Dallas-Fort Worth airport where we are on layover.

This airport isn't too bad, but I think my favorite airport so far has been the one up in Boise, Idaho, where we went this summer. A friend of my wife's family had gotten married and we were invited to the celebration reception. The Boise airport is much like any other, with one key difference, at the time of our visit, it had free wi-fi. That one little feature immediately propelled it to the top of the list.

I'll admit that I really like to be connected. It's not like I'm a captain of business (yet) and millions of dollars ride on my being able to receive a crucial email (yet), but I just like to have that access. I want to be able to read my mail, to check the blogs that I read, to get a little work done, or even just to relax with a little online music. I wouldn't say I'm addicted. In fact, I do enjoy the rare occasion when I take a vacation where I have *no* connection at all -- no Internet, no phone, no television, no newspaper. Right now, though, with me starting up the business, I've got so much I want to do that it would be really nice to have access.

Well, since I don't, I do get to enjoy the one thing in my life that I enjoy above all others -- chatting with my lovely wife.

So, when was the last time you were completely disconnected?

39 days.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Oh, The Pain!

Michelle, my physical therapistFor over a year now I've been having trouble with my shoulder. Most days it's just uncomfortable, but if I try to exert it by doing some sort of repetitive motion like painting, or just push it to the limit with push-ups in Karate, it can be painful enough that I have problems tying my shoes. At my most recent physical, I told my doctor about it and she recommended (cue dark foreboding music) physical therapy.

Now everyone has heard the horror stories of going in for physical therapy and the agony perpetuated upon the poor unfortunate souls who take part. The therapist are all sadists and devise ever more elaborate plans to inflict unspeakable pain upon their charges. It's almost enough to make even the bravest among us blanch in fear.

OK, I'm here to tell you that it's just not true.

I started working with my physical therapist, Michelle (pictured) about a month ago. The first day was all about where I was right now. What moves could I make? What were my limitations? How much pain did I experience? What was I trying to achieve with the therapy? Then we did a few easy exercises and that was it. No pain and very little discomfort. I discovered that my shoulders were slightly out of alignment which was causing stress and inflammation throughout the whole area.

In the following weeks, Michelle gave me a regimen of exercises and stretches to remedy the problems in my shoulder. Each time I came in we would work on new techniques to strengthen the shoulder. In all that time, not one scream of pain escaped my lips nor tear of agony fell from my eyes. In fact, I didn't see a single patient weeping while I was there.

Was it always easy? No. But, really, it was no worse than a good workout at the gym. The therapists very carefully chart your progress and if you follow their instructions, you will end up feeling better and stronger. I just recently had my one month evaluation. I was amazed at how little pain I was still experiencing and how much freer my movements had become.

So, if you have been experiencing pain, whether from an accident or simple overuse, and your doctor recommends that you go in for a little PT, don't worry. You will survive and it's very unlikely that there will be any screaming involved!

So, what experiences have you gone through that have been blown out of proportion in the minds of the public?

41 days.

100 Percent!

The Success Principles BookI've been reading a pretty good book lately called "The Success Principles", by Jack Canfield (one of the guys who brought us the "Chicken Soup..." books). I just read one of the section last night called "99% is a Bitch; 100% is a Breeze". The basic concept here is that, if you set a rule for your life, it is easier to follow it 100% of the time rather than allowing yourself to break it "occasionally".

I've found this to be true in my own life. For the last two years, during Lent, I've given up television. That meant no watching DVDs, no live programs, no taped programs, no channel surfing. Nothing. The only difference was that the first year I allowed myself to watch on Sundays.

Ask me which one was harder.

That first year was a real drag. I would tape all of my programs and starting at 12:01 am on Sunday morning, I would spend a good portion of my day in front of the idiot box. I would watch that evening and then at midnight, I would turn it off for another week. I'm rather ashamed to say that hitting that "Off" switch at midnight was truly difficult, especially if I was in the middle of a program. I was always tempted to just finish up that show, or just watch "until the next commercial". Boy, was I glad when Easter arrived!

The second year? Well, it was tough for a week or so, but, you know? It gave me a completely different mindset. I knew that I wouldn't be watching TV again until Easter, so I started doing other things with my time. I read. I chatted with my lovely wife. I worked a few extra hours. I listened to some good inspirational and educational audio programs. After that first weekend was passed, I didn't even really miss it. To tell you the truth, I think I even lost some weight (since I tend to get snacky when I sit in front of the babblebox).

Now that I'm going to be working on my business full-time, I'm going to remember this lesson. What sort of things could I accomplish if I commit 100% to reading for an hour a day? To taking one business course a semester? To writing for 30 minutes every day?

Kind of exciting thoughts, right?

So, tell me, what one thing would you commit to 100%?

41 days.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A List by Any Other Name

My To Do ListI have come recently into the use of lists.

My wife, Lisa and I have often joked that, while women seem to have the ability to keep ten things in their heads at once, we men are lucky if we can keep two. When the two of us are at the grocery store, all I am thinking about is getting to the checkout aisle and getting home. Lisa has meanwhile stopped at the greeting card display to get the month's birthday cards (for both our families), two graduation cards (one for a cousin and another for a young friend) and a sympathy card. Not once do I see her hesitate trying to remember for whom she is buying.

Personally, I would love to emulate this level of attention to detail. In starting my business, I know that the details can make me or break me. Still, every time I have tried to just use my memory (as good as it is), I seemingly inevitably forget someone or something, So, the solution?


If I can only remember two things, I'm going to make one of them a list. For several weeks now, I've maintained a prioritized list of daily tasks. Wow! What a difference in my productivity. Fewer things are slipping through the cracks, too, which makes everyone happier.

That's the little stuff. Now I'm going for something bigger. One of my heroes, Scott Ginsberg, recommends the practice of making a list of 101 goals that you will accomplish in the upcoming year. I decided to give it a shot. I'll tell you. 101 goals is a long list. The first twenty were pretty easy. Since then, though, it's gotten harder and harder to come up with new stuff. Not so amazingly, I'm having to really examine what I want in all parts of my life.

I think this year is going to be a good one!

So, what is on your New Year's list?

42 days.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

It's That Time of Year

I love Thanksgiving.

I have deeply cherished memories from my childhood of going to my grandparents house for the big Peters' Thanksgiving celebration. Both my grandmother and grandfather had large families and they all still pretty much lived in the same area of western New York, so the gatherings always included a ton of aunts and uncles and cousins. My immediate family lived in Michigan, so we always drove in the night before and got there late. We would get up the next morning and watch the parade on television while Grandma and Mom prepared for the feast to come. In later years, after my grandparents moved to a smaller house, we would all get dressed up and hop in the car to go to whichever relative's house who was hosting that year.

We always watched the Lions play football (no matter how bad they lost) and at sometime during the day/evening, we'd get the cards out for rousing games of 31, euchre, fantan, or (for the more skilled group) pinochle or bridge. Depending on the actual venue, we had video games or a pool table to keep the kids amused. Sometimes there'd even be a ping-pong table.

Of course, given the nature of the holiday, we always had a ton of food. Just walking into the house, you were overwhelmed by the savory aromas of turkey and stuffing, gravy and potatoes, fresh bread, and that odd cranberry sauce that was in the shape of the can in which it came. Of course, before the actual mealtime came, most of us kids had already spoiled our appetites gorging on cheese and crackers and the myriad other snacks which had been positioned throughout the house.

It's been years since we've all gotten together. My grandparents have passed on and we've mostly lost touch with the relatives from New York. Still, the holiday warms my heart. This year we're heading down to Austin, Texas where my sister-in-law, JoAnn, will be hosting the holiday for the first time. The outer trappings may be different -- the warm Austin climate is a far cry from the blustery weather of western New York -- but this is still family getting together to celebrate.

And I'm sure I'll spoil my appetite on the cheese and crackers.

So, what is your most cherished memory of the Thanksgiving season?

44 days.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Getting Things Done

Clockwise from left: Nathan, Greg, Chris, Jong, and SarvagyaFinally! After many late nights and as many long days, we finally got things up and running. Oh, there are still one or two things to get done, but my last big deadline working for U of M has passed. Now, I will spend my time cleaning up my code, documenting everything I've done, and packing up my office. Going through this big rush has reminded me of all the projects I've been on in the past. The deadlines, the site reviews, the software releases.

I've worked with some truly talented coders in my time at the U. I've been on projects that excited me with their possibilities. I've served researchers, like George Furnas, who had a grasp of the world which exceeded my own, but whom I helped make their ideas into a reality. Of course, traveling right next to the good were those moments which I would just as soon forget. Frustrations caused by bureaucracy, by small-minded empire builders, by those who wouldn't trust that I knew my job -- they all deserve their positions in my personal Hall of Shame.

Greg in front of display wallStill, I've enjoyed my time at the U far more than I've regretted it. I've met some great friends, from Ken Alexander, my first partner in crime, to Dan Kiskis, a great boss and a great friend, all the way to today, with my newest coworker, Sarvagya Kochak (whom I have to thank for these pictures of us down at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). We've shared the long hours and the last-minute pushes and come out at the end with great memories and stories.

So, I guess, in my rambling way, this is sort of my tribute to all my years at the U. It's been a great place to work and learn. I only hope that my next adventure will be as challenging and rewarding as this one has been.

So, how many of your closest friends and cherished moments have come about from where you work?

45 days.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Trying to Get It Done

Puzzle PiecesI'm in the middle of a big deadline push with my U of M job right now. One of the problems with large, distributed institutional projects is that communications becomes much more of a challenge. This is especially apparent when you are the only "distributed" one. Of course, knowing this, it really is up to me to make sure I am getting the information I need, I suppose. Still it's a heck of a lot more fun blaming someone else.

The upshot is that, on Monday morning, I'll be flying down to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for a site visit by the funding agencies of the Mid-American Earthquake Center project. This is not necessarily the bad thing. The bad thing is that I was informed last night (Thursday) that some of the attributes which I thought were somewhat optional are, in truth, due to be demonstrated on Tuesday.

Fortunately, I do have most of the pieces working. Now the tricky part is to get them all put together and working. It's a good thing I enjoy a puzzle!

So, what was the worst deadline surprise you've ever experienced?

51 days.

Friday, November 10, 2006

What Do You See Through Your Lens?

Squidoo LogoSo, I decided to start checking out some of the new and cool toys out on the web. As a web professional, I hate to be too far behind the curve. I think I have about the 10 millionth blog, so I'm pretty much out of luck there. Still, I figure if I keep plugging away, I am still ahead of most of the crowd.

Keeping this in mind, I was reading Seth Godin's blog tonight. He wrote about this new gadget called Squidoo. From what I gather, it allows you, me and even Aunt Mary to create a single web page which points to other stuff. The idea is this: Each of us is an expert on something, even if it is only ourselves. On this page (called a "lens") we create lists and links and short commentary about that one topic. This gathers all of the important info into one place, and makes it easier for other people to find it.

I'm going to have to explore the Squidoo-sphere some more to get an opinion of how well it works, but for now, eschewing my usual paralysis of analysis, I have created my own Squidoo lens. I've decided to focus on the experience of starting my business. I hope to include links and reviews of resources which I find along the way.

Sounds like it might be fun!

So, on what topic are you the expert? How did you become such an expert?

53 days.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Leadership Ann Arbor: Class #1

Cara, Jenn, Peter, Mike, and MikeI think my head is going to explode.

Today was our first day of the actual Leadership Ann Arbor classes. Peter Allen of Peter Allen and Associates, Inc (pictured to the right, with the red pants) led us through a very full day on the topic of economic development in the Ann Arbor region. You might remember me mentioning the homework I had to do to prepare for the class a few days ago. Well, that homework acted as a flashlight in the darkness of my ignorance of the ins and outs of Ann Arbor. Today's class was closer to a lightning strike. Very bright, very quick, and I'm left trying to make sense of the after-images seared into my brain.

We met this morning at eight o'clock at the Downtown Home and Garden, a great shop over on Ashley Street. I found out today that it was originally a feed and seed store long ago. The owners attribute part of its success to adapting and changing with the times. Now, not only do they sell "feed and seed" but they also offer a wide variety of gardening tools, furniture, and lawn art. Inside they have a variety of high end kitchen supplies. Right now they are getting out their fun, retro Christmas ornaments. They were also the first shop not owned by Zingermans to offer Zingerman's baked goods.

And that was what we learned in about the first ten minutes. Now imagine that same density of information spread over eight hours and I think you'll get some impression as to why my head feels like it is going to explode!

Mike and II was chatting with Mike Stevens, the CEO of Midwest Financial Credit Union and my seatmate on the bus as we drove around this afternoon. We were both amazed that, despite the fact that we had each lived in Ann Arbor for years, a huge amount of the information today hadn't even made it on our radar. This was just the first day. I can only guess at how many more times my head will feel stuffed to the bursting point!

So, what cool stuff have you learned about the town in which you live?

54 days.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Wealth of Wisdom

Muriel Converse, SCORE SuperheroAs I mentioned in a previous post, I recently visited the Ann Arbor chapter of SCORE, a national group of retired executives who provide free, confidential business counseling. When I met with Karl Hauser this past Friday, he recommended that I meet with one of the other Ann Arbor counselors, Muriel Converse.

I think I owe him lunch.

I met Muriel this morning at 11am at the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce's offices on Main Street. Even if she were unable to assist me in any other way, just listening to her stories of running a consulting business would be well worth the time spent. She told me about the life of her company from the point that she left the University of Michigan, through the work she did for various auto companies, to the time she decided to sell her company. She told me about the choices she made (and even revealed which ones she would have changed under different circumstances). She even filled me in on some of the pitfalls for which I should keep on the lookout.

On top of this wealth of experience and advice, she came up with some people, both general and specific who she thought would be able to advise me further in how to grow my business. Just as in my first meeting with Karl, I walked away with specific action steps that will take me forward in my career as a business owner. Do you know what she asked for in return? That I come back to tell here what was happening with my business.

Heck, I would have done that anyway.

As I said in my previous post about the SCORE program, you owe it to yourself and your business to avail yourself of the wisdom that these folks have to offer. Give it a shot, unless you think you already know it all. ;-)

So, what neat and helpful people have you met recently? How did they help you?

55 days.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I Can See Clearly Now

Cleaning my window to the worldThe other day, I mentioned that one of the best things that has happened to me in the last week was my wife and I cleaning the windows in the whole house, inside and out. I can't believe what a difference it makes when I look out the window next to my desk. I also realize now, what a layer of dust had built up on that window. Of course, it didn't happen all at once. As with most things, it happened so slowly that I didn't even notice that I was adjusting my expectations of what I could see through that window.

In a funny way, I guess, the window mirrors my life lately.

Many of you who know me, know that I have been working two jobs for the last ten years or so (sometimes three!). On the one hand, I've had a part- or full-time job with the University of Michigan. I've worked there since I got out of graduate school. It's always been interesting and challenging and the benefits there just couldn't be beat. On the other hand, I've had my own company, Cyber Data Solutions. I've helped out some great organizations, from the Oakland County Regional Interagency Consumer Council, to the National Institutes of Health.

The thing was, working on both meant that I couldn't really excel at either. And, because I had been doing it for so long (17 years at U of M!), I wasn't really aware that I was limiting myself. Eventually, my expectations of what I could accomplish lowered to meet the energies I could expend in two different places. Oh, I kept saying that I would give up one or the other, but I never seemed to get around to it. And, let's face it, I had gotten comfortable with the way things were.

That brings us to a point a few weeks ago. I started reading a book called "The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind" by T. Harv Eker. There was a section in the book where the author maintained that poor and middle-income people "want" or "choose" to be rich. The truly wealthy "commit" to it. It was as if my mind was a super-saturated liquid into which someone had thrown a pebble. Suddenly, my intentions crystallized and in that moment I decided that I would devote my full attention to my business.

Today I met with my boss at U of M and gave him my notice. Of course I'm not going to leave him in the lurch, so I will finish out the year, but as of January 1, 2007, I will no longer be employed at the U. A new year and a new chapter as it were.

Am I a little nervous? Sure. It's a scary thing, working without a net. In reality, though, I feel like I did when I was a kid and it was the first day of summer vacation. I'm excited and feel a great anticipation of all the challenges and adventures which lie before me. Lisa is with me and is ready to support me in this endeavor no matter what. I'm a very fortunate guy.

So, when was the last time you cleaned your windows, either real or metaphorical?

56 days.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Best Things

CashierI love chatting with the people I meet throughout the day. Cashiers, bank tellers, waiters, pretty much anyone who crosses my path (especially those who can't really run away). Anyway, lately, I've taken to asking people, "What's the best thing that's happened to you in the last week?" You'd be amazed at what people will respond and probably equally surprised at how quickly people are willing to tell you quite a bit about themselves.

Just today, Lisa and I stopped by Whole Foods to get a few staples (and to snack our way through the free samples). While we were checking out, I put the question to the young gentleman who was ringing us up. For him, it turns out, the best thing is that he recently joined the local "Y" and that they are going to let him set up some sort of apparatus which will allow him to practice his disc golf over the winter. Pretty cool, right? Then he went on to tell me that he actually plays in tournaments and that at the last one he made it to the semi-finals and that he and his girlfriend had won the mixed doubles division.

And I found out all of this in the time it took to ring up about ten items.

So, if you have problems meeting new people, I highly recommend giving this icebreaker a try. Let's face it. Anything that I consider to be "best" in any way tells you so much about me.

What, me? Well there are a couple of things I'm not ready to share yet, but strangely enough, Lisa and I spent Saturday morning cleaning all of the windows in the house, both inside and out. I'm amazed at what a difference this makes on my outlook (no pun intended).

So, what's the best thing that's happened with you in the last week?

57 days.

Friday, November 03, 2006

He Shoots! He SCOREs!

Business AdvisorWouldn't it be cool to work with a business advisor who was the VP of Corporate Development in a large, privately owned company (almost $500 million in sales)? How about one who founded a market research company and grew its annual sales to over $2 million? Can you imagine the wealth of knowledge that these folks would have to share? How would you like to get that advice for free?

Check out SCORE.

On Friday morning, I went in to the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce offices where our local SCORE chapter has its offices. I was meeting with Karl Hauser (the first advisor whom I described above). My goal was to take my business to the next level, but I wasn't even sure what my next steps should be. By the end of the hour, he had helped me through the beginning of the process. He had provided me with free materials about my plans. Best of all, I walked away with some specific action items for me to tackle. He really helped clear up my confusion!

If you are just starting out in business, or even if you've been doing it for a while and would just like to get some advice on how to do things better, I highly recommend that you check out your local chapter. You can go to the national SCORE site to find a chapter near you.

What? You say that there aren't any chapters nearby? No excuses! You can also get access to this same level of experience via email. And, again, it's free. Just follow the instructions on the national site and within 48 hours, you will have your answers.

So, what was the best business advice that you ever received? Did you follow it?

Thursday, November 02, 2006


A few years ago, I took a seminar called "How to go from where you are to where you want to be." As a product of this course, our instructor helped us to create a five-year plan including all of those things that we wanted to accomplish. Amongst the many things in my story was to travel. In particular, I included three places: Disneyworld, Alaska, and Hawaii.

I was actually never very big on travel. It always seemed to be a lot of trouble and not worth the effort. Then I met my wife, Lisa. She taught me to love the adventure of seeing new places, to find the fun, even when things aren't going perfectly, and to re-order my priorities to include travel in my life.

Well, about three years ago, we went for a week at Disneyworld and in August of this year we went to Alaska for ten days. In between, we've gone to Oregon, Italy, Japan, and on a cruise through the Caribbean. Who'd have thought that I would become such a world traveler?

And now? Now, thanks to Lisa's careful planning, we're going to Hawaii, a place I've dreamed of going since I was about 7. This winter, while the wind and snow is howling around our house, we'll be enjoying the beautiful island of Kauai. I am a truly fortunate guy. Beyond the prospect of spending a week in paradise, I found someone who has helped me to reach my dreams!

So, where is your dream trip? When are you going to go?

You Are Here

small town main streetOne week from now I'll be attending my first regular meeting of the Leadership Ann Arbor class. I wrote a bit about our initial retreat where we learned about ourselves as leaders. Now we are going to start learning about this great city in which we live.

The November meeting is supposed to concentrate on economic development in the Ann Arbor area. To prepare ourselves, we were given a "Scavenger Hunt" which was to help us learn more about the city. OK, at first I got all sulky -- think of a put-upon teenager and you'll get the picture. Then something intriguing happened.

I got interested.

I found out about the Border to Border Trail initiative, the goal of which is to create an unbroken, non-motorized trail following the Huron River from Dexter to Ypsilanti. I was forced to reflect on the businesses I frequent in the area. I even started researching the businesses that have sprung from technologies developed at the nearby universities, colleges, and research labs -- such imaginative and creative people!

Something that is exciting me even more is to find out what the other members of my working group have found out (or knew in the first place). What are their top five restaurants? Cultural attractions? I'm sure they will come up with things of which I have never heard, but will expand my enjoyment of living and working here in Ann Arbor.

So, what cool things have you discovered about your home town? If I were to visit there, could you recommend a great vegetarian restaurant?