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  September 30, 2011
Thoughts from the Road...


This last week has been spent cycling down the coast of California with some close friends. 

I suppose that when a person spends 6-8 hours on a bike, their minds will tend to wander about...pondering truths, fiction and observations.  This week I’d like to share some of those simple thoughts with you.

Being Prepared

Starting out on our third day, one of our riders was having a difficult time keeping his bike in gear.  We soon pulled off road and looked at his derailleur and cassette but didn’t see any problems.  We then looked at his chain and noticed that one of the links on his chain was bent.

We weren’t carrying an extra chain and we were about 70 miles from the nearest bike store.  After some thought, I remembered that I had an extra master link in my tool kit and decided to replace the bad link with a good link.

We broke the chain and tried with all of our might to fit on the new link only to discover (after a great while) that the link was too small for that particular chain. 

Now what?

Well as it happens...I had brought along my old bike just in case we needed some spare parts along the way.  Instead of removing the chain on the spare bike (and perhaps ruining both bikes), we decided that it would be best if the stranded rider rode the spare bike until his bike could get repaired.

We encountered a problem (bent chain)...had a possible solution (new master link)...but our solution didn’t fix the problem...

So we needed to go to "Plan C"...

How often in life do we find ourselves in a situation where we have no contingency plan (or a plan that just doesn’t work).  Are we resourceful enough to actually have a Plan C or do we try to force a bad solution to work?

Contingency planning is important in business as well as in life.


As it so happens, all of the riders on this trip are somewhat successful entrepreneurs.  Some of their businesses are big while others are smaller but growing.

I have found over the years that there are two things that typically contribute to an entrepreneur’s success...being lucky and/or being smart. 

If you ask an entrepreneur who was clearly lucky (being somewhere at the right time with the right product or service)...they will more often than not tell you that they were just smarter than everyone else...

Whereas if you ask a entrepreneur who is clearly smarter...they will say that they were just lucky (or probably say nothing at all).

Pain Relievers

In 1897, Felix Hoffmann discovered aspirin while searching for a treatment for his father’s arthritis.  The patent was licensed to Bayer in 1899 and it has been available as an over-the-counter medicine since 1915.

Tylenol (acetaminophen) was patented by David Young while working with Standard Oil at the University of Kentucky.  He sold the rights to Johnson & Johnson (McNeil Labs) who began marketing the product in 1955.  It has always been an over-the-counter drug.

Advil (ibuprofen) was developed by Dr. Stuart Adam while working for Whitehall Labs in 1969 but wasn’t available as an over-the-counter medication until 1984 (originally sold under the trademark of Advil).  Ibuprofen is a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory.    
After ingesting much of these pain reievers this week I wanted to pay homage to the inventors and developers of these wonder drugs.  I can’t imagine life before these relatively safe over-the-counter pain killers were available.  Most of us take so much for granted in our daily lives; cars, telephones, the internet, airplanes, microwave ovens...it hard to fathom what life must have been like before these great inventions of the 20st century. 

What will people remember about the 21st century?

Bigger is not always better

One night we were forced to spend the evening in a relatively remote location.  Unfortunately for us, accommodations in this small town were somewhat sparse and we ended up paying a lot of money for a room that was smaller than some people’s closets and a bathroom that was hard to turn around in. 

Although the bedroom and bathroom were small, they were clean and comfortable.  Of course, there was no phone, TV, or wireless internet access in the room but in terms of a good night’s sleep, I can’t complain.

In 1961, the average size house was 1,310 square feet with 3 bedrooms, 1 ¾ bathrooms and a two car garage.  It cost, on average, $12,500 (I know this house well...as this was my family’s home as well).   

Fifty years later, the average size of a new home is 2,629 square feet and the average selling price is still $275,700.

Why do we need to live in such big houses?

The following day we rode our bikes down the Big Sur coast.  I happened to look up on the hill late that afternoon and noticed the Hearst Castle in San Simeon.   Now there’s a big house I thought to myself.

Never mind...question answered.

Thanks for letting me share my random thoughts with you this week...

...and thank you very much for supporting OptiFuse where we don’t know exactly what will come around the next bend in the road but are excited to find out...

Jim Kalb


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