Team Paul Accused Of Bribing Lawmaker

A conservative blog says it has emails proving an Iowa state senator was bribed into supporting Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign.

State Sen. Kent Sorenson was serving as Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman in December 2011 when he abruptly quit and gave Paul a surprise endorsement. Bachmann (R-Minn.) accused Sorenson of accepting money to jump ship within hours of the incident.

Emails involving several top officials from Paul’s campaign about Sorenson’s endorsement of the former congressman were made public Wednesday by Open Secrets. The Des Moines Register reports on the emails:

The emails include a three-page memo from Aaron Dorr, an Iowa gun rights advocate, to John Tate, Paul’s campaign manager, that says Sorenson would need certain things before he switched allegiances from Michele Bachmann to Paul. Sorenson “needs to match his current salary of $8,000 a month” through fall 2012; Sorenson’s Senate clerk, Chris Dorr “would have to have his salary matched” at $5,000 a month; and Sorenson would need $100,000 to be placed in a political action committee account that would be controlled by Sorenson and the Dorrs, the memo says.

Sorenson denied any involvement with the emails, telling the Des Moines Register he “wasn’t part of this conversation.”

“I’m not even sure if the discussion happened, but if it did happen, I wasn’t part of it,” Sorenson said. “I didn’t give anyone authority to have this discussion (about being paid).”

This isn’t Sorenson’s first run-in with trouble. He has been accused of violating ethics rules that prohibit Iowa state senators from accepting employment, directly or indirectly, from a political action committee, and he was embroiled in a controversy over Bachmann’s misuse of a contact list from the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators, or NICHE, to fundraise during the 2012 Republican presidential primary.

Click here to view the emails on Open Secrets, and click here for more from The Iowa Republican.

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Jesse J. Miller: Lean on Me: Finding Your Co-Founder Counterpart

Like many first time entrepreneurs, my main focus when starting a tech company was the product. When looking for a co-founder, I remained product focused, and searched for someone with similar software development skills that could help me build the product. With this focus in mind, I met Ben Coe, who became the co-founder and CTO. Together, we built Attachments.me.

We were lucky. While Ben and I come from the same background in engineering, we had little to no knowledge of much else business-wise so we had to learn quickly. This worked out for us, but not without some pains, as we quickly had to learn marketing, business development and sales on our feet. Not to mention, keep building the product.

Choosing who to, or not to, begin a company with is one of the most important decisions for your company and can make or break the business.

I was very lucky that Ben and I ended up working well together, but I don’t recommend anyone leave this decision up to luck. Here are a few things I learned from my experiences that are important to consider when thinking about who to start a company with:

Trust

Everyone hopes to start their company, raise millions of dollars and turn it into a huge profitable company without ever hitting a bump. Unfortunately, that is not reality for most new businesses. There will be problems. Employees will leave. There will be days that nothing seems to be working.

Having a partner you know you can lean on in these times is vital. Your co-founder will be the only person that you can always be completely transparent with. It is essential you trust each other fully, so you can help each other overcome obstacles and get through the hard times.

Dilution

For each co-founder you bring on, you are taking on a significant amount of dilution. This is why Mark Suster recommends having at most 2 total founders in a company. Start a company with a total of 4 founders and you’re already down to 25% ownership each, before even raising any money.

If you have a business partner but feel you need one more to fill a gap in expertise, this may point to a larger issue that perhaps you and your chosen co-founder don’t have complementary skills, You can consider alternatives such as adding that certain needed skill set as an early hire, but that is not always the right solution for your business. This brings me to my next point.

Complementary Skills

There will be a million things to do when you start a new company. The more of these things that you and your other founders can do yourselves, the further you can get the company without needing funding. It’s imperative that you choose co-founder(s) who complement your own skills.

For a web technology startup, Jason Putorti (lead designer at Mint.com before going on to found Votizen) recommends a founding team of 3 people, consisting of a hacker (software developer), hustler (business development/sales) and a designer. The key behind this three-pronged strategy is that a well-rounded core co-founding team will be able to execute on creating a good-looking product and explore how to sell it, without having to look to any additional people.

The perfect combination of complementary skills to begin a company will differ from business to business. The key point is to think about what skills your company will need to get off the ground, and try to find a co-founder who excels in areas you lack, balancing the skill set across the business.

Choosing who you found a company with can have one of the greatest effects on the long term success of your company. By ensuring you take into account the points above and finding the right balance, you can give your company a significant advantage before it even starts.

Amanda Schneider: High Tech vs. Low Tech: How Human Interactions Put People Back Into Business

We’ve all been there — you receive an email, read it and make a rapid assumption based on the person’s word usage and your current mood. Then you learn that what you thought was a harsh email was actually just an email sent in haste. This scenario plays itself out millions of times in thousands of offices around the country as text-based communications lack context from personal communication. According to Professor Albert Mehrabian’s research, 55 percent of meaning is in facial expression and 38 percent of meaning is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said). In the business world, an environment heavily based on email and other impersonal forms of communication, it is easy for people to open themselves up to a wide variety of productivity inefficiencies and culture-draining ill feelings. So what needs to be done so that we can see less of this in the workplace? We need to bring people out of their digital cocoons to work with their colleagues in real-time. Despite all of the technology out there, there is little substitute for face to face interaction. Here are a few tips on how to create face-time in your workplace:

A Picture Solves a Thousand Business Problems

Visual thinking can help liven up face to face meetings. Dan Roam, author of the international bestseller The Back of the Napkin, is a strong believer in the power of pictures to help people solve complex problems. Brainstorming sessions often rely on word lists on an erasable surface, but a drawing can often help teams identify connections to other ideas and work through logistical issues. Encouraging employees to draw pictures lightens the mood, enables more creative thinking and helps create camaraderie amongst teammates. It also makes the notes more lasting. While no one is likely to re-read that word document with the bullet points from that meeting six months ago, a photo of a graphically illustrated meeting can be hung by the water fountain and will keep strategies fresh in employees minds.

Important Meetings Should be In Person

It is nearly impossible to solely have meetings in person, but it is recommended to mandate employees’ presence for the important ones. A great example is building internal teams at work. A great example of this is with new hires; an email goes out welcoming a new team member and that’s it — no proper introduction or meaningful process for getting to know them. Wouldn’t it be great if a follow-up to that email was an in-person brainstorming meeting about a project he or she will be working on? The team can instantly begin to work together and foster relationships while adding a new perspective to help solve a deep-seated problem.

The power of organic, personal chemistry in an ideation session is important. Virtual brainstorms can eat up hours of a group’s time as everyone contributes to the email thread or Wiki but rarely generate the same amount of creativity. People are social by nature and it is not uncommon for the group to catch fire and build great ideas on top of great ideas. Brainstorms can be kicked off with an email — in fact, it is recommended so contributors can prepare -but coming together as team and having everyone illustrate their thoughts is far more productive.

Digital technologies are amazing tools in the short-term but can have negative effects if relied upon for too long or too much. No amount of technology can replace emotion and team-building, so it is important that your company neglect in-person meetings in favor of the ease of firing off emails. Employees can build stronger relationships, ideas can take on new forms and overall culture improves when people work and play together in the same space.

If this is common practice where you work, I would love to hear your success stories — leave a comment below!

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