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3 Useful Apps for Entrepreneurs in Chicago

May 18, 2013

Chicago Entrepreneur appsAs an entrepreneur in Chicago trying to develop 2 businesses, I travel around the city quite often. Trains & buses, bikes & cars. Sometimes a long walk, other times I pay for a cab. If you are in a similar situation, or plan to be in the future, use these apps to help you get around town efficiently, safe, and dry.

MyRadar – be your own weather forecaster and know when to prepare for wet weather. Use this app to track storm movements in the Midwest. If a storm is in Iowa, you’ll have 2-4 hours before it reaches Chicago. (left: the radar of Chicago as of 1:27pm CT 9/5/12)

Don’t get caught waiting for a bus in the rain with no umbrella.

TransitStop – With data supplied by the CTA, know when your bus or train will arrive. Time it well so you don’t spend those extra minutes at the bus stop. You can stay at home, a coffee shop, or your networking event for a few extra minutes.

As an entrepreneur, every minute counts.

Uber – When you have a late night meeting, networking event, or you’re hanging out with friends, don’t walk to the CTA or drive home while intoxicated. Uber is the quickest & easiest way to find a cab near you and notify them that you want to be picked up. For an extra fee, be picked up by a sleek, black car.

Safety first.

I hope this helps you on your path to happiness as an entrepreneur.

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Tom’s Happy Melody of Week 17 of 2013: Armin van Buuren present Gaia – J’ai Envie De Toi

April 26, 2013

It’s the 17th week of 2013 and the world population is about 7,114,904,092

It’s been a while, let’s welcome back the Happy Melody of the Week. And who other than my favorite DJ in the world…Thank you Armin van Buuren for producing music that constantly enters the Nucleus Accumbens region of my brain.

Did you know that certain wavelengths of sound can cause a release of dopamine, which leads to a feeling of happiness. Enjoy J’ai envie de toi (translation: “I want you.”):

Previous Happy Melodies of the Week (world population):

Week 2 of 2013 – Ocean of Dreams by DJ Doboy (7,093,100,122)

Week 49 of 2012 – Allein by Eric Prydz (7,085,590,349)

Mayor Emanuel’s Plans To Grow Chicago’s Science Community

April 23, 2013

Chicago science startup communityChicago’s Mayor Emanuel just announced plans to grow our science community with the idea of “fostering advancement in life sciences, technology, and energy companies.” If you don’t already know how big the community is, check out these stats. In the Chicago region:

  • Biotech companies support more than 45,000 employees
  • There are nearly 1,000 companies and these companies received $150 million in venture capital in 2012
  • Colleges and universities in the city of Chicago had over $1 billion in academic R&D expenditures in 2011
  • 70+ percent of this focused on life sciences

It’ll be exciting to watch this community grow, since we are lacking startups in the science community. One of my favorites is HappiLabs. Check em out. Also, visit Technori for useful information about the Chicago entrepreneur community.

Chicago scientists you should follow on Twitter:

@CorrieMoreau – tweets about women in science, and ants.

@RobMitchum – tweets about music

@LeidaMarieTL – tweets nerdy jokes

Want To Change The World? 5 Book Recommendations for Entrepreneurs

April 2, 2013

This is an exciting time to be starting a new business. Due to collapsing economies and ecosystems, the structure and philosophy of companies are changing, resulting in a new breed of entrepreneur. Join the movement and start reading. Here are 5 books I recommend, and a quote from each, if you intend to start a business that changes the world.

Book recommendations for social entrepreneurs

Screw Business As Usual – written by Sir Richard Branson, the only person to have started 8 different billion dollar companies. This book will teach you about the power of company culture and how to create a business where everyone involved is treated with respect, including our planet.

Have passion for what you do; believe in yourself and your product and your customer; persevere; delegate; listen. Have fun.

Delivering Happiness – Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos.com, shares his story about building a company that concentrates on the happiness of those around you.

Envision, create, and believe in your own universe, and the universe will form around you.

Wired To Care – Dev Patnaik ventures deep into the concept of using empathy to create a positive business culture.

Without empathy, any great company is at risk of becoming an also-ran. With empathy, any company can stand head-and-shoulders above its peers for the long run.

Ecological Intelligence – Daniel Goleman explains how the products we buy (and sell) have a large, cumulative impact on the health of our planet. Be aware of your impact as you build your business.

Whether we are a single consumer, an organization’s purchasing agent, or an executive managing a brand, if we knew the hidden impacts of what we buy, sell, or make with the precision of an industrial ecologist, we could become shapers of a more positive future by making our decisions better align with our values.

The Lean Startup – @EricReis teaches you how to use the scientific method to build, optimize, and grow your business. Science + Business is a tasty recipe for success. (I loaned the book to someone, so no photo or quote from it.)

3 Reasons I Prefer Fistbumps

March 15, 2013

chicago science happiness promoterReason #1: Spread of disease. Bacteria travel from fingertips, to door knobs and CTA handles, back to someone else’s fingertips. I don’t open too many doors with my fist.

Reason #2: Fistbumps allow for multi-tasking with the same hand. Whether I’m holding a coffee or beer, or a dog’s leash, I can also fistbump.

Reason #3: Painless. My right thumb is arthritic. Handshakes are more painful.

A Review of Nikola Tesla’s Autobiography

March 9, 2013

Nikola Tesla AutobiographyWeird. That is my 1 word description of the book. It almost seemed like Nikola didn’t want to write it but someone talked him into it. A publicist? However he doesn’t seem like the type of person who’d have a publicist.

Nikola is very weird too, mostly due to his unique brain power. He had the ability to envision every tiny detail of an invention in his head before he did any writing, drawing, or mock-ups of the idea. He also passed out frequently from over-thinking. Tesla does a great job of communicating his thought process and how lucky he was to have such a magnificent brain.

The book is short, but not an easy read. At 94 pages I should have been able to finish it in 2 hours but there was something about the flow. Like I said, he didn’t seem to want to write this book and just  hammered out 94 pages worth of text in one night.

A few of my favorite quotes, including the very first sentence:

The progressive development of man is vitally dependent on invention.

This line is great because it makes me think of society being absorbed with TV and social media as our lives pass by:

More persons are so absorbed in the contemplation of the outside world that they are wholly oblivious to what is passing on within themselves.

#MyLifeAsAnEntrepreneur:

I am credited with being one of the hardest workers and perhaps I am, if thought is the equivalent of labour, for I have devoted to it almost all of my waking hours.

Enjoy the book.

Cool Science Job in Chicago: Studying Ants at The Field Museum

February 26, 2013

happy science chicagoChicago’s Museum Campus is home to one of the prettiest views of the Chicago skyline. It’s also home to the land of giant elephants and tiny ants…and the scientists who study them at The Field Museum. Did you know ants have “police”? Well, they do. And we know this because ant scientists (myrmecologists) exist.

Chicago’s premier myrmecologist started her career as a little girl on the sidewalks of New Orleans and eventually studied in the lab of world renowned scientist E.O. Wilson. It’s difficult to follow in the footsteps of greatness, but one day at the end of graduate school she called, “Dr. Wilson?” E.O. said, “You’re a PhD now. Please call me Ed.” This was her ‘I Made It!’ moment. Today she’s one of the world’s leading ant scientists.

Happy Scientist

Meet Corrie Moreau, PhD–world traveler, fan of tattoos, and student of ants.

Dr. Moreau  has been studying ants since childhood. Why ants? In an urban environment such as New Orleans, wildlife is difficult to find for a child. Unless…you want to spend time on the ground with a magnifying glass. That’s what Corrie did. On concrete, dirt, or grass, she was intrigued and made scientific observations of ants (as a 6-year old!). Eventually, she had to make a decision: hang out with the cool kids or hang out with the ants?

You can read about her path from adolescent outcast to loved & respected myrmecologist in the graphic novel: The Romance of Ants.

The Romance of Ants

Currently she holds a position as the Assistant Curator of Zoology at The Field Museum.

On some days she’s in the office studying ants on a computer screen. Some days she’s in the lab dissecting their stomachs. And other days she can be found traveling the world on scientific expeditions to collect ants. Her feet have touched 6 continents and her passport has been stamped by 13 countries, including: Peru, Ecuador, Madagascar, Venezuela, Australia, Borneo, China, Uganda, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Denmark.

Corrie Moreau, PhD Field Museum Scientist

There are many species of ants around the world. Dr. Moreau is working on organizing their tree of life –how are different species related and what makes each of them unique. She collects their DNA, performs science, and then the process results in a colorful display of the DNA on her computer screen (see the photo down below). She also spends time analyzing their behavioral habits, which is how we know that ants have “police”.

What else have scientists learned from studying ant behavior?

  • In ant societies, females don’t just rule, they dominate.
  • Ant queens are huge compared to the males they mate with. Imagine a 200-pound man. Now imagine a 4,000 pound woman.
  • Ants live in large, highly organized, cooperative societies—practicing activities from strategic army warfare to agriculture and livestock herding.
  • Some ants herd caterpillars, like cows.
  • Ants have been on this planet for at least 140,000,000 years. Our species (Homo sapiens) has only been here for about 200,000.

Ant scientist Chicago museum campus

As the human population grows towards 8,000,000,000 it is extremely important to study other organisms with large populations and structured societies. Luckily for humans, we have scientists like Dr. Moreau to help us understand the wealth of knowledge hidden inside the ancient societies of ants.

I hope you enjoyed your glimpse into the cool job of a scientist who studies ants. Thank you Corrie for letting me into your office. Enjoy the photos below. Peace!

Ruugy Media -Corrie Moreau PhD

The colorful and always smiling Corrie Moreau, PhD

Ruugy Media Photo

Part of her ant collection (click to enlarge)

Ruugy Media Photo

Ant DNA on a computer screen

Ant DNA

Cytosine = Green, Guanine = Yellow, Thymine = Purple, Adenine = Red

Ruugy Media - Ant art

Old school printing

Ruugy Media Photo

Sausage ants meet sausage toes (aka arthritic toes)

Related Cool Science Jobs:

Studying Meteorites at The Field Museum

Discovering Stars at The Adler Planetarium

Lab Manager at The Field Museum