Nationally-known TV meteorologist and Entrepreneur
Paul Douglas is a nationally-known and respected TV meteorologist and serial entrepreneur, founder of 6 companies in the last 20 years. His previous company, Digital Cyclone, was the first high-tech business to put a software application on a cell phone (2001). In 2007 Douglas sold Digital Cyclone to Garmin for $45 million. Inventor of “EarthWatch” in 1991, Douglas received a patent on the world’s first 3-D weather graphics technology, licensed to hundreds of TV stations worldwide, used by Steven Spielberg in the movies Jurassic Park and Twister.
Currently Douglas is launching 3 new Internet-related companies: WeatherNation LLC (10 meteorologists working from 3 HD studios in Excelsior to deliver weather content to media clients and weather-sensitive companies), Smart Energy LLC (high-resolution forecasts for wind farms, utilities and energy traders), and Singular Logic LLC (ad-decision technology that ultimately allows consumers to choose the kinds of advertisements they’re willing to watch). Douglas spent 30 years in the broadcast industry, including appearances on Nightline with Ted Koppel and the CBS Evening News.
He has chased tornadoes in Oklahoma, flown into hurricanes, and talked about his passion: weather and entrepreneurialism, to thousands of groups and organizations since 1980. Author of Restless Skies, the Ultimate Weather Book for Barnes and Noble, Paul enjoys writing, traveling, and encouraging individuals to follow their dreams and launch their own businesses, as well as reaching out to companies and showing them how they can encourage “intra-prenurial” thought within their own organizations – critical skills for a fast-changing, increasingly challenging business world.
Reinvent Your Business Model, Before Someone Does It For You
I’ve started 8 companies in Minnesota since the mid-80s, the vast majority of them weather-related. Stick to your passion. Do what you know and love, right? In each of these businesses I drew up a business plan, with what I thought was a sustainable model. In reality not ONE of these companies turned out like I thought it would, through a combination of new competitors, changes in the business landscape, new inventions and things none of us could foresee. I had to adapt, change the model (on the fly) to remain competitive and live to fight another day.
Of all the business attributes that increase the odds of success – the most important, in my humble estimation, is flexibility. Yes, creativity, and an empowered work force, clear-cut goals and incentives are all critical, but the one factor that has emerged above all others in my entrepreneurial walk is the ability to turn on a dime, to adapt, in real-time, to the unforeseen and unpredictable.
The most successful companies today are motivated by more than money and shareholder return. They have a collective vision, a passion for creating great products and services, and serving their customer base. That’s a given. But the business world is littered with the road-kill of great business plans and exuberant founders. What’s the secret sauce? I don’t pretend to know, but in my experience the one factor that has made all the difference is flexibility; the willingness to shift business models literally overnight, reinventing our business to be in tune with rapidly shifting market forces beyond our control.
Who, in your company, is charged with reinvention, with reimagining what your business will look like 10-20 years from now. Focusing on short-term metrics can be fatal. Who is looking out over the horizon, anticipating change, pushing the boundaries of what is possible? Do you have a skunk works program charged with cannibalizing your own business? If you don’t do it – a competitor will. The reward goes to the nimble, the business owner willing to transform and even eliminate existing lines to meet the needs of future customers.
Change is inevitable. Nothing stays the same. How can you embrace uncertainty and create an environment where colleagues aren’t content with status quo? Intel’s Andy Grove put it best. “Only the paranoid survive.” Translate that paranoia into action by re-imagining your business, and building in the flexibility necessary to survive and thrive, long-term.
I’ll describe my harrowing plunge into the business world, and how passion isn’t enough. Building a culture of change and transformation into your business model isn’t optional. It’s mission-critical.
Weathering The Storm
These are challenging times for businesses, large and small. From outsourcing and automation to the destructive gales of the Internet, the risks to existing business models have never been greater. How can any company employ entrepreneurial habits and plant new seeds to insure continued expansion and long-term prosperity? Douglas shares some his eye-opening experiences launching 6 Minnesota companies in the last 20 years to show how a company’s employees can think and act like entrepreneurs, how this “intra-prenurial” mind-set is critical for continued growth & success in the 21stcentury.
Weather is a metaphor for life, storms of change, severe threats that emerge suddenly, high-pressure situations that demand flexibility and creative thinking. Paul Douglas has found a way to turn his passion (weather) into a string of successful companies. Douglas has turned the old adage, “everyone has at least one book in them” into “everyone has at least one start-up company in them!” The forecast calls for fewer people thinking like “employees” and more people becoming “owners”, using their skills, turning their passions into successful start-up companies.
Climate Change: Hype, Hoax or Scientific Reality?
There is so much disinformation out there today about climate change. Is the atmosphere truly warming, and if so – why should we care? Douglas examines the controversy from the standpoint of a meteorologist who has been witnessing profound changes in weather over the last 20 years, documented in his national best-seller, “Restless Skies”. Is there a connection between climate change and extreme weather? In the wake of “ClimateGate” and confusing headlines, it’s more critical than ever to get to the truth about what’s really going on, and why this slow-motion climate transformation may be one of the 3 biggest ongoing stories of the 21st century.