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Entrepreneurial Spotlight: SoundHealth

SoundHealth's Mike Miller making a splash in medical innovation.

SoundHealth’s Mike Miller making a splash in medical innovation.

Editor’s Note: At we take pride in shining a spotlight on local entrepreneurs. Today, we introduce you to SoundHealth and its founder Michael Miller.

The medical innovation landscape is littered with valuable products that have not and may never make it to market. And with these failures, the general public suffers because it never had the opportunity to benefit from these innovations.

Such is the dilemma of the thousands of products being developed by inventors, individuals who simply don’t have the knowledge, finances, or connections to bring these innovations to market.

Michael Miller, founder of a Boca Raton-based “medical innovation agency”, was one of the keynote speakers at the Insight Innovation Exchange Health (IIEX) Conference in Philadelphia recently.

His firm, SoundHealth, combines the expertise of the inventors, the missions of funding foundations, and resources of research institutions to develop what is essentially a market-ready medical solution for presentation to potential purchasers of the product.

Miller was joined on the panel by executives from InCrowd, AstraZeneca, and Merck.

“Getting a product to market can be a time-consuming and cumbersome exercise,” said Miller. “Quite frankly most inventors simply don’t have the ‘muscle’ to usher a product through the various stages of development. And, even if they have a mature product, they don’t have the knowledge of how to market these products directly to the consumer.”

Miller explained that inventors must recognize that there is a new model, one that involves looking for an “exit strategy” before the product gets to market.

“Too often, innovators spend too much money and time developing a product, and they run out of capital, can’t secure approvals, can’t afford manufacturing, and can’t raise more capital,” he said. “The unfortunate reality is that these products die on the vine. And, another product sits on the shelf.

“This is a vicious cycle in the medical innovation world. The real tragedy is two-fold. First the people that could benefit from these products don’t get the opportunity to use them, and second the innovators don’t get to benefit financially from their creations.”

SoundHealth streamlines the process of moving these medical innovations from “bench to bed- seamlessly”.

“All we ask is that products be relatively mature,” said Miller during his presentation. “They can’t be a concept written on a napkin. We then consider which distribution outlets (i.e. medical device, pharmaceutical, biotech, etc.) may want to purchase it following a conditional evaluation. That is what we mean by working backwards from the exit strategy.”

Through relationships with various funding organizations and research & development entities, SoundHealth is able to deliver market-ready products to purchasing and distribution firms.

“Our process minimizes the need for inventors to raise capital, hire lots of people and spend time lost in all the drama” he said. “It’s our business to take early stage innovations, and working with the innovators, rapidly finish it to the point it’s ready for commercialization.

The interest in SoundHealth’s model was evident at the IIEX conference.

“One of the major concerns of medical innovators who were there was getting the product to market,” said Miller. “We are now in the process of evaluating a number of products from the conference, and we’re confident that several will become part of our growing portfolio.

“We also have the attention of the distribution and manufacturers who are continually seeking the next great medical innovation.”

One key feature to this unique business model is, that everyone involved benefits.

“The inventor earns significant money through the ultimate sale,” said Miller. “Funding organizations support and sponsor medical innovation that helps their constituents. Research institutions are being funded to conduct research. And, distribution and manufacturing companies receive the latest medical innovation that may save lives while improving their bottom lines.”

Miller added that many of the inventors are physicians who are developing products as a way to enhance their medical practices or even phase out of their practice altogether with the hopes of retiring.

“Some are inventing products directly related to their medical expertise,” said Miller. “They have a passion for medicine and their patients’ well-being and this is just another way for them to contribute, all while pursuing the American dream of making a significant amount of money.”

About SoundHealth:

Boca Raton based SoundHealth, founded in 2010 ( is a “medical innovation agency” that expedites the process of delivering medical device, pharmaceutical, and biotech innovation to the marketplace. SoundHealth’s unique process combines the expertise of inventors, funding organizations, and research institutions, which provide commercial-ready products to distribution/marketing companies.

Shaping The Future


“Few things are less predictable or more dangerous than young men and women without hope, and there are thousands of these in so many of our cities.”– Governing Publisher Mark Funkhouser.

The images from Baltimore’s unrest are still very fresh in my mind.

The news cycle moves on-it always does—but crushing poverty persists. And so we will have another Baltimore. You can count on it.

I wonder if we will ever seriously make an effort to get at the root causes of hopelessness, drug abuse and crime in America. I wonder if we will ever have leadership capable of galvanizing our country again.

We seem so Balkanized and the polarization seems to be getting more acute, more sharp-edged.

The world is changing rapidly, some say exponentially and much faster than some of our institutions are capable of dealing with.

There seems to be two views of this kind of change.

The people at the forefront of technology are big believers that tech will save the world, by creating new industries and new opportunities. They see huge advances in health care, education, manufacturing and agriculture that will usher in a golden era of prosperity.

Then there are those who aren’t as bullish.

From the self-checkout aisle of the grocery store to the sports section of the newspaper, robots and computer software are increasingly taking the place of humans in the workforce. Silicon Valley executive Martin Ford says that robots, once thought of as a threat to only manufacturing jobs, are poised to replace humans as teachers, journalists, lawyers and others in the service sector.


“There’s already a hardware store [in California] that has a customer service robot that, for example, is capable of leading customers to the proper place on the shelves in order to find an item,” Ford tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies.

In his new book, “Rise of the Robots”, Ford considers the social and economic disruption that is likely to result when educated workers can no longer find employment.

“As we look forward from this point, we need to keep in mind that this technology is going to continue to accelerate,” Ford told NPR. “So I think there’s every reason to believe it’s going to become the primary driver of inequality in the future, and things are likely to get even more extreme than they are now.”

While Ford paints a sobering picture, futurist Peter Diamandis of Singularity University, believes in a future filled with “abundance.”

“Abundance—the Future is Better Than You Think”—is a  book by Dr. Peter Diamandis (Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation) and Steven Kotler (bestselling author and science journalist). The book serves as an antidote to today’s dark pessimism.

The authors rely on exhaustive research and extensive interviews with top scientists, innovators, and captains of industry to explore how four emerging forces—exponential technologies, the Do It Yourself innovator, the Technophilanthropist, and the Rising Billion (poor people becoming connected to the Internet and mobile technology) —are conspiring to solve our biggest problems.

The truth about what will happen is probably somewhere in the middle. We will benefit immensely—and have-from the advances we have seen in technology. But there will be winners and losers—as we are experiencing.

The key will be positioning our communities, states and nations to take advantage of exponential change and mitigate the downsides. We have to create a middle class again and we can’t ignore the poor.

While robots and computers are beginning to move from rote activities to those requiring dexterity, you have to believe that human capacity, empathy, emotional intelligence, creativity, love and nuance will still count for something in the future.

So yes, STEM education (science, technology and math) will be vital, but art will still be important too; maybe even more so in the age of robotics.

We are seeing trends in food—all natural, organic, locally grown. Products—craft beer (have you been to Saltwater Brewery, Copperpoint, Due South, Funky Buddha?), functional drinks (Boca-based Celsius, not Diet Coke, former Delray resident Jeff Rubinstein’s new beverage WTRMLN water), the rise of Etsy and the many entrepreneurs roaming Boca-Delray seeking and filling niches.

Years ago, when we did community visions and plans, we spent a lot of time talking about what we wanted to see happen. A lot of money was spent on infrastructure, parking garages, beautification, lighting, gateway features and things like improving water pressure, adding sidewalks and roads.

Today’s visioning needs to include capacity building and the importance of nurturing human capital.

I recently spent some time in a car driving through Delray’s southwest neighborhoods with my co-chair on the Downtown Master Plan: Chuck Ridley.

We saw a whole lot of things to work on: substandard housing and blight. But that wasn’t the purpose of the tour. We went to see the neighborhood’s assets: the Village Academy, Catherine Strong Park, Community Land Trust homes which looked great, the cleared site of Carver Square where the CRA removed sinking homes and more.

The job is far from done and the potential is visible for all those willing to see. But if you want to see unrest, violence and despair stop trying to build hope and let the future shape your community.

We see where the world is headed, the future can be abundant or it can be dystopian.

I’d like to think we have a say.

Guest Post: Memorial Day Thoughts


Editor’s Note: Jack Levine is a Leadership Florida friend and a frequent blogger. He runs the 4Generations Institute in Tallahassee. We thought we’d share his thoughts on Memorial Day. Have a safe weekend.

By Jack Levine

4 Generations Institute

As Memorial Day, Monday May 25th, approaches please join me in pausing to honor family members and neighbors who sacrificed as members of our Armed Forces.


Whether our veterans survived their military service, or were lost on the field of battle, our country owes each of them, and their families, a debt of gratitude.


As we look back at the wars advocated by presidents, declared by Congress, and supported to varying degrees by our citizens, let’s remember that none of these conflicts were or, to this day, are immune from political and social controversy.


But we should never confuse debate over military policy with the need to be respectful of those whose lives are at risk on the battlefield, in the air, or on the seas.


Our freedoms were earned, bled for, and in many cases, died for.


Memorial Day presents the chance to gather our thoughts and honor the military service of our parents and grandparents, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins.


Individuals who either volunteered or were drafted, wore the uniform of our armed forces, and gave all or a portion of their lives in service to our nation and its allies.


Our American WWII veterans are passing away at the rate of 1,000 per day.  These elders deserve a great measure of our respect in their advancing years.


In honor of those we’ve lost, let’s not be passive about the importance of their sacrifice.  In their honor, let’s pledge to participate in the following advocacy activities:


  • Register, vote, and urge others to do the same. Democracy demands dedication!


  • Actively communicate with our elected officials about issues affecting families, including military families. Remember, our elected officials work for us!


  • Share your thoughts in the media by writing letters to the editor and interviewing about your advocacy passions with reporters. Media is our most cost-effective megaphone.


  • Motivate youth to exercise their voice in matters which affect them. The next generation of advocates needs good role modeling.


  • Confront those who think that complaining about problems is sufficient. Whining is not as good as winning!


  • Compliment community leadership and promote active involvement by friends, colleagues and neighbors as volunteers, whom I call “time philanthropists.”


  • Support causes which focus on advocating positive change. Spectatorism doesn’t produce progress.


Leadership is….

Caring more than others think wise,

Dreaming more than others think practical,

Risking more than others think safe, and

Expecting more than others think possible.


Please keep in mind that while we relax over holiday weekends, some neighbors…our first responders….police, EMT, firefighters, abuse investigators and hospital personnel…and of course our military forces abroad and here in domestic service…remain on call and stay vigilant to protect us and our families.


Recognizing these heroes among us, supporting them, taking care of their families and giving them an honest compliment is a worthy action that pays great dividends.


US 1: A Long and Winding History

Lancaster Boulevard before...

Lancaster Boulevard before…

And after....

And after….

Contrary to urban myths, the idea of narrowing Federal Highway was first broached in 1991 and not as part of any shady deal with dreaded developers.

In those days, development interest in Delray was scant; to say the least.

It was about a year after the important 1990 election that brought Tom Lynch, Jay Alperin and Dave Randolph into office and the team was starting to come together.

A new city manager was hired, a new police chief, a new chamber president and a new CRA Director too.

The story I heard (direct from the sources themselves) was that Chamber President Bill Wood was taking a walking tour with CRA Director Chris Brown when they approached Atlantic and US 1. I’m not sure if it was 5th or 6th Avenue.

Both noticed cars whizzing by the city’s still barren main street and both men realized that having a high speed highway bisect your downtown was probably not good for business or for pedestrians.

US 1 served as a natural barrier, with many pedestrians turning around at the intersections unwilling to cross a high speed, wide road. You could sit at the corner back then and watch the behavior with your own eyes.

And so the idea of narrowing was born. But it took until 1996 for the project to become part of the city’s engineering and planning process and another five years until the debate reached a full boil during the Downtown Master Plan process when Treasure Coast, our CRA and city planners recommended the narrowing of Federal Highway.

As co-chair of the process and a city commissioner at the time I wasn’t convinced. The idea seemed counter-intuitive to me. We were talking about adding downtown housing and we were being educated on the many benefits of density as a strategy to ensure that local mom and pops could survive year round in what was then a very seasonal economy. (P.S. it’s better today, but still seasonal).

“How can we add more units and lose a traffic lane”? we wondered.

It was an obvious question and the planners, engineers and urban designers we were working with provided us with answers.

  • People aren’t moving downtown to drive. They would move here to have a walkable lifestyle.
  • Residential development doesn’t generate as many trips as commercial development.
  • There was a demonstrated history of high speeds, accidents and even fatalities on the road. (Buildings, including a wine shop next to the Colony Hotel , were hit by cars)
  • It makes no sense to have a highway running through your central business district, speeding people away from your shops and restaurants.

Still, while the commission at the time was not completely convinced, we were also open-minded and willing to listen and experiment, despite some nasty emails saying we were caving to the dreaded developers trying to sell urban lifestyles on Federal Highway. One of those developers is now our mayor. We caught quite a bit of grief when we approved Mallory Square on the site of Steve Moore Chevrolet.

How could we allow a dense development (it isn’t dense) and who would want to live on Federal Highway? Well it turns out quite a few people and they were willing to shell out big bucks too. And residential development did generate far  less trips than a busy dealership, which had a lot of workers and customers taking test drives 7 days a week.

But people remained concerned about the loss of a lane on US 1,  so we launched an experiment in 2005 and installed ugly white poles to simulate the narrowing of the road and we studied traffic during all seasons of the year to determine whether this made sense or not.

The results were compelling: speeds had been lowered, accidents were down, pedestrians felt safer crossing the street and studies showed we had plenty of capacity to narrow and grow.

So the decision was made to move ahead and once the money was gathered from the federal government, the project proceeded. It took until 2009 for the final design to be approved. Whew…that’s 18 years of talking, experimenting and planning and it’s still under construction.

And it has been a mess. But….now that the dust is clearing I think it will be one of the best things ever done for the downtown and for Delray. It will benefit pedestrians, cyclists, golf carters, businesses and even motorists because it will be safer and much more attractive.

Now I understand that people will disagree vehemently and I respect that.  But….let’s wait and see what happens because I have a prediction to make.

Actually, I stole this from Fred Kent, the founder of the Project for Public Spaces, who recently lectured at the Arts Garage. Kent is a placemaking guru, known worldwide. He happens to have a winter home here in Delray. He likes some things and he despises others. He’s not afraid to voice his opinion and he breaks a lot of eggs in the process. That’s OK because he also makes you think, which we can all benefit from doing.

Kent believes—as I do—that the beautification, narrowing and safety efforts on US 1 will open up lots of cool opportunities because we will convert Federal from a highway into a street. And highways—which are meant to move cars rapidly—are never as charming as streets, which are meant to be safe, warm and charming if done right.

So…I’m bullish on US 1 and the “nooks and crannies” of Delray. I think it will become a nice neighborhood and a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of Atlantic Avenue.

I hope we get some eclectic uses, some independents and something different.  I think it will begin to draw people off the main street as they explore other parts of an expanded downtown.

Other places are catching on to the benefits of designing places for people not cars.

South Dixie in West Palm Beach is being re-imagined with the help of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council.

Lancaster Boulevard, in car centric Lancaster California, has been transformed into a beautiful street made for people– not cars.

The city of Lancaster, CA, has taken a decrepit nine-block stretch of downtown and transformed it into a vibrant, walkable destination, making it a superb example of a community reinventing itself.

“There’s a stereotype that small towns don’t have the wherewithal to carry a project like this off,” says Elizabeth Moule, principal of Moule and Polyzoides, the architecture and planning firm involved in the revitalization. “But they did carry it off. The city had a strong idea of a successful vision, and they single-mindedly made it happen.”

We did too. We just needed a little convincing.


I Miss the Water Cooler

Where have you gone?

Where have you gone?

Often, I find myself sitting at meetings when someone will say the following.

“Can we get any press on this?”

“This is awesome, people ought to know about it.”

As an old newspaper guy who has dabbled in public relations, I really sympathize with the desire to spread the news.  There used to be a community water cooler, but sadly it is gone.

That does not mean that content is gone, or that news is no longer being made, it just means that the outlets have changed or gone away, the audience is fragmented (drinking from a wide array of water coolers) or tuned out completely.

It wasn’t always like this.

I have absolutely no beef with change or with technology; wouldn’t matter if I did, but I generally embrace both. I like social media, can’t imagine life without the Internet and love that I can read the New York Times on my phone at lunch.

But I also miss community journalism and feel that somehow we have been diminished as locals when the water cooler went away.

Pre-Internet and for a few years after Google,  if you lived in Boca Raton or Delray Beach you could keep up with the local news by reading the Monday-Thursday Papers, the Sun-Sentinel, The Boca News and the Palm Beach Post. There was also Boca Magazine, The Beachcomber, Native Sun and a few other local magazines that seemed to come and go.

When I served on the City Commission from 2000-07, we were regularly covered by three daily newspapers and sometimes four (the Miami Herald) if something big was happening. We were also covered by a few weeklies.

The coverage was abundant. If you wanted to stay informed, you could easily do so.

When I moved here in 1987, I took a job at the old Monday-Thursday Papers which was one of the largest chains of community newspapers in the country and the largest in the southeast. We had papers from Jupiter to Miami with the Delray and Boca Papers printed twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays.

It was a great job if you like to work hard and make little money; which was fine when you are in your 20s and looking for adventure. I wrote between 5-7 stories a week, with a set of news briefs and a police blotter. This was done in the days when you had to go to the Police Department and ask for the blotter and sift through reports looking for interesting or noteworthy crimes. Today, it’s all online as are the backup materials for City Commission meetings, Planning Board meetings etc.

I liked to get out of the office and frankly we had no choice—our City Editor a grizzled veteran named Tom Sawyer –(yes his real name) would bark at us if we were hanging around the newsroom after deadline.

“Nothing newsworthy is happening here,” he would remind his young charges. “News doesn’t come in here and find you, you have to find it.” And so we did.

We sat at the counters at Ken’s and Hazel’s, visited barber shops, talked up HOA presidents and rode with cops and detectives and cultivated sources at City Hall.

We covered the news and also prided ourselves on doing what they call “enterprise” reporting, covering trends, writing features, doing investigatory pieces and in-depth journalism.

Much to my wife’s chagrin, I still have lots and lots of those old newspapers sitting in boxes in my garage. Sometimes, if I’m bored or nostalgic, I’ll pull a few out and they never cease to amaze me.

Details you forget, stories that were big at the time that were soon forgotten (Jacobson’s anyone?) and quotes from people who have long left the scene and were once so important and influential.

It’s great fun to read and its local history too.

The papers were pretty good back then. The Boca News had Darcie Lunsford and Wayne Tompkins and Skip Sheffield and Vin Mannix and they were all great reporters. We had Larry Kahn, Debbie Stern, John Dichtl, Stacey Trapani, Eva Fellows, Judy Vik, Kate Confare and Jim Baker writing sports. They were great writers and smart people too.

On Friday nights, we would meet at Dirty Moe’s in Boca and tell war stories from the week that was…what politician hung up on us, what well-known name we saw in a police report, what the local gadflies said at that week’s Council meeting.

Darcie and I used to sit in the back row at Delray City Hall and fantasize about Darcie running for mayor someday.  I would be her campaign manager.

We would look at all the faces of the old mayors that lined that walls of City Hall- the décor dated even back then -and tried and imagine Darcie’s portrait up there.

But Darcie was smart. She went on to marry a high ranking Delray police officer and began covering the real estate beat for the South Florida Business Journal before going into the field herself.

We used to compete back then, but we were friendly. I used to go to dinner with the Sentinel and Post reporters at the old Delray Mall before commission meetings. We would be upset if we were scooped, but we were friends too.

I think civic life was different back then. Citizens seemed more informed. The space devoted to local news was larger and people read what you wrote.

More people voted back in those days too and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. When you are informed you vote. When you don’t know what’s going on, local elections can pass you by. And that’s a shame.

Here’s an example, in 1990 over 10,000 voters (41.5 percent of registered voters) went to the polls in Delray to elect a new mayor (Tom Lynch) and two city commissioners. Delray was a lot smaller town 25 years ago so 10,000 voters is an astonishing figure.

Can you name the Delray candidate who received the most votes in history?

Betcha can’t, but if you guessed David Randolph you’d be correct. Mr. Randolph got 7,720 votes in ’90.

In March 2015, about 16 percent of the city’s voters showed up, or 6,944 people. The winning mayoral candidate earned 3,703 votes, less than half what commission candidates polled in 1990 and about 2,000 votes less than Mayor Lynch received in a heated three way race.

I think the water cooler has something to do with that.

Sure, there are some local publications out there, but the dailies have really retrenched, the Monday Thursday Papers (which used to be on everybody’s lawn) are long gone and the monthlies are just not frequent enough.

The irony is…even with technology there is a bigger need and niche today than ever.

To paraphrase Simon & Garfunkel “where have you gone Boca News? A community turns its lonely eyes to you.”



50 Keys to Success

Signs are all around us that what we see wasn't an accident.

Signs are all around us that what we see wasn’t an accident.

A few weeks ago we published a post listing 50 Urban Myths. It got a lot of response, thank you. Today we follow with a list of 50 ingredients for community building success.
1. Visioning: Having a vision is critical, a citizen driven vision is the most powerful.
2 Civic Engagement: Time always well spent.
3. Naming your problems and confronting them: that’s the real and true definition of an All America City.
4. Valuing education: You have to be involved in and advocate for your local schools.
5. Delray comes first, before personal agendas: Without a vision there’s a vacuum. Egos and personal agendas will fill the vacuum and knock you off track. Put the community’s needs first.
6. Big Hairy Audacious Goals That Are Implemented: Ambitious aspirational cities win. But in order for that to happen, goals need to be put in the done box.
7. Investing in culture: Delray got this right with projects like Delray Center for the Arts, the Library and Arts Garage. Culture makes your city unique.
8. Partner with non profits: Team up with solid non-profits to meet critical community needs. Build each other’s capacities to serve people.
9. Try to improve race relations: Diversity is our strength.
10. Build on your assets: Make the most of your parks and public facilities. Delray understood that it always had great bones.
11. Understand how the pieces fit together: Downtown’s brand positively impacts the whole city, quality schools drive commerce, gaps hurt.
12. Understand that downtown is never done: Smart leaders wake up a little scared even when things are going right. Downtowns boom and bust, you have to keep iterating and working hard. The downtown is the heart, you should never ignore the heart of the community.
13. Walkability: A big part of the charm and what makes this city so different from neighbors.
14. Understand that design trumps density: Push for good design, sprawl is not your friend.
15. Strategic density allows for sustainability; yielding economic, social and environmental benefits.
16. Understand that density can give you some affordability: A sustainable community needs a variety of housing options and price range, especially product in the middle.
17. Know you need open space downtown: But that space should be active and designed for people (and pets).
18. Value public art.
19. Know that outcomes matter. Process has a role. But you have to deliver. Don’t let bureaucracy stifle results or innovation.
20. Empower an independent CRA to be innovative: A well-run CRA can be a game changer. It was in Delray.
21. Understand that the CRA is a valuable tool and teammate.
22. Flexible codes encourage investment. Rigid codes stifle innovation.
23.  You can be flexible and business friendly but still have standards.
24. Dialogue matters. Input matters. Listening is critical. Tone matters.
25. Know there is a difference between making announcements and genuinely seeking input.
26. It’s a big city out there. And sadly the happy people don’t always show up: Effective leaders understand this.
27. It’s a job to do not to have: Effective leaders understand this.
28. Celebrate success.
29. Civility is important but it can be rare. You have to press ahead anyway.
30. Do what you think is right not what is politically expedient.
31. Real leaders don’t play dodge ball: Issues don’t magically go away, problems ignored fester.
32. Don’t fix what isn’t broken
33. Nothing is perfect. That’s ok.
34. The squeaky wheel shouldn’t take over the agenda.
35. Success is never final.
36. Failure is hardly ever fatal.
37. Cities can and must be entrepreneurial.
38. Always encourage civic pride.
39. People come and they go. Some are irreplaceable: life surely goes on, but people matter. If the right ones show up you succeed, if the wrong ones takes over, you risk it all.
40. There’s a need for a woodshed. To remind leaders that they are stewards.
41. Stay focused on the big picture.
42. Let the manager manage. Let the department heads run their departments. Encourage them to work together. Hold everybody accountable, but accountability does not have to look like punishment.
43. “How may I help you” is superior to “I’m going to stop you”.
44. Promotions are important. Cities need to market and to have quality events.
45. Good special events are important.
46. Encourage people to serve. Get them involved. Keep them involved. Thank them for their involvement 
47. Don’t create policy in a vacuum. Ask the end user or the impacted or the people you hope to benefit.
48. Put good people on city boards.
49. Elected officials serve us. We don’t serve them.
50. Complacency is a killer
Bonus. Don’t major in the minor.


Lynn Takes Bold Step

Lynn University makes a bold bet.

Lynn University makes a bold bet.

Lynn University has announced its innovative iPad-powered online bachelor’s degree program will be called iLynn.

Beginning in fall 2015, the new program will offer a private university experience for a state university price. iLynn is one of two initiatives Lynn highlighted during eMerge Americas during the conference May 1 through May 5 in Miami.


“Technology has enabled us to reimagine college,” said Lynn President Kevin M. Ross. “We’ve been using iPads on our campus to improve student engagement and reduce the cost of traditional textbooks by up to 95 percent. Now, we’re excited to announce that we are using that same mobile technology in our iLynn program to reduce the cost of tuition by 20 percent.”


The iLynn program empowers adult students with work, family and other obligations to pursue their undergraduate degrees online, on campus or both. The program also offers accelerated terms, easy transfer of college and certified work experience credits and professional coaching for every student. Starting at $35,400 ($8,850 per year), iLynn is as affordable as the average state university tuition, but with a more personalized education, small class sizes and unlimited access to next-generation collaboration tools.


The school is also launching Lynn University Digital Press, a digital publisher of scholarly works designed for iPad- and iTunes U-enabled academic curricula.


“Lynn’s digital press is the first of its kind in South Florida,” said Chris Boniforti, Lynn’s CIO. “The model of having faculty write and create the texts they use in class is an innovation that not only reduces textbook costs for students, but also increases faculty and student engagement with the content.”


To date, the university has created 24 multi-touch books that have helped reduce the cost of traditional textbooks. Another dozen works are underway, including a contribution by Presidential Fellow James Guthrie, who will address the field of educational leadership.


The university anticipates the digital press will also significantly enhance its sustainability efforts by replacing traditional printing, shipping and inventory practices with immediate access to digital content.


During the second annual eMerge Americas conference, President Ross delivered opening remarks at the 1111 Party and Boniforti participated in the EdTech Disruption of Education panel. The Lynn Admission team demonstrated the university’s award-winning iPad-powered curriculum during the conference exhibit on May 4 and 5.


Not the best example, but we got your attention didn't we?

Not the best example, but we got your attention didn’t we?

College graduation is a profound moment for a parent.
In our family, we dreamed and planned for this moment before our kids were born. That’s how much we value education.
But the value of a college education has been challenged of late.

Prognosticators are predicting the “disruption” of traditional higher education and I suppose some of that is already happening with MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).

But while online education has it’s advantages it will be hard to replace the value of actually going to college and learning to live on your own. The internet is amazing but it cannot replace the real world.

Nor can it adequately replace the relationships you build by living, studying and experiencing college alongside other people.
Whether it’s developing a relationship with a professor, pledging a fraternity, attending a game, learning to live with a roommate or hanging with friends at the student union there is just nothing like the real thing.
I was reminded of that this weekend when I attended the graduations of my son and daughter from UF and USF respectively.
I know I am not alone in witnessing their transformations from uncertain high school graduates to impressive young adults.
Yes they learned a lot in the classroom; skills that will enable them to get started in life. But they learned just as much if not more from the experience itself.
Learning to be an independent adult can’t happen in the cloud or on any device regardless of how smart.
That’s what the essence of the college experience  is all about and the smart schools will invest in the relationships they can develop with their students.
What does that mean?
Asking faculty to engage with and in some cases even collaborate with students. FAU’s new VP of Research Dan Flynn is encouraging collaboration by creating opportunities for professors to help students launch businesses and pursue joint research projects.
Invest in experiential learning. Give students real world access and experiences. Lynn University is famous for this, providing students opportunities with hands on opportunities including a recent behind the scenes trip to the NCAA Final Four for sports administration majors.
Promote meaningful opportunities to work in the community. And the world is the community. Again, our local schools are involved in community projects at home and abroad.
Invest in place. Makes universities attractive, walkable, dense. Promote collisions. There are opportunities galore in this regard.
Collisions can happen online and they can be cool. But real world collisions are magical.
Yes, magical.
Magical always wins.
Create magic and you will never be disrupted. Ignore change and you won’t be disrupted you’ll be destroyed.

The smart schools will iterate and evolve and create real and virtual experiences leveraging technology but always including a real world experience.

You simply can’t beat the real thing.

Thoughts on Graduation


Nearly 30 years later, I can barely remember crossing the stage for my college diploma at SUNY Oswego.

Frankly, it’s a blur. (Which means I had a good time in college).

But I do remember graduation weekend. My parents made the long drive from Eastern Long Island to upstate NY and stayed overnight in my off campus apartment.

My late mom– three years younger than I am today– slept on a mattress on the floor in my room. All I had was a mattress, and I kept a towel under my door to keep the mice at bay.

It was a lovely place.

The wind off Lake Ontario would whip through the walls and my dad had to use a wrench to turn the shower on. Yes, we are talking rustic upstate charm. But I loved it.

Still, after a few winters on Lake Ontario (where winter is 8-10 months a year) I knew I would be heading somewhere warm.

California or Florida. One or the other. I was 21 years old.

This weekend, we are heading to Gainesville and Tampa to celebrate the college graduations of two of our children. Samantha earned a special education degree from the University of South Florida and Ben an accounting degree from the University of Florida.

They worked hard, were well prepared after graduating Atlantic High and really blossomed at college as students and as people. We couldn’t be prouder.

Both are passionate about their chosen paths; Ben for accounting and business and Sam for teaching and kids.

I was less certain.

Other than wanting out from under the snow, I wasn’t really focused on a career.

I loved to write and was interested in business but I was still waiting for some answers.

I thought I would write for a newspaper and one day I would try and own a weekly. I did not aspire to work for the New York Times but I was very interested in community journalism.

I had never heard of Delray Beach but after canvassing California in vain and a year working for newspapers in Binghamton, N.Y. I was ready to give Delray a whirl when I got called for an interview at the old Monday-Thursday papers headquartered on East Rogers Circle in Boca.

I remember driving to the area on A1A and marveling at the palm trees and the big oceanfront mansions. I left early from my friend’s parent’s condo in Lauderhill giving myself plenty of time to find the newspaper’s offices. I took the leisurely route across the Linton Boulevard Bridge and then north on U.S 1.  until I reached Atlantic Avenue.

It was June 1987 and Delray was a vastly different place. Not much happening in those days but I found the town appealing. There was Ken and Hazel’s, the Colony Hotel and The Phoenix. There was the Spanish River Inn (where the Marriott Residence Inn stands) and the Arcade Tap room.

Very nice, I thought; a tad sleepy but the skies were blue and I was out of upstate NY.

Finding myself with some time to kill, I went south to the old Boca mall on US 1 and I remember going inside and finding a bookstore.

Then it was time to find East Rogers Circle so off I went. I got lost. Really lost.

I drove up and down Congress Avenue and couldn’t find East Rogers Circle.

This was pre GPS days and when I stopped at a local gas station they had no idea where I was trying to go.

I went to a pay phone and called the paper asking for help. A kind woman gave me directions and I found the paper off of Clint Moore Road. I was late, nervous and embarrassed.

I was also sweating through my cheap suit in the hot summer weather. But I got the job and started a few weeks later as a general assignment reporter in Delray. That meant planning and zoning board meetings, city commission marathons, looking through police reports and trying to learn what a CRA was.

A day after I started we were herded into a meeting. The paper was sold. Whitney Communications had sold us to Worrell Enterprises.

Yes the same Worrell that would end up purchasing the Sundy House a number of years later.

At the time, I knew the Sundy House as the former home of Delray’s first mayor. When I got the Delray job, my editor gave me an old chamber guide and I spent my first night on the job reading about the city’s history.

I worked for Worrell Enterprises for 10 years and never met the company chairman Tom Worrell until I was on the city commission and he tapped me on the shoulder one night after a ribbon cutting at the House of Vintage on South Swinton. We went across the street to the Sundy House and had a glass of wine.

All of this is a long winded way of saying that life is very unpredictable in a magical way.

And that the places, jobs and people that play a role in your life often don’t show up until later chapters. Delray? Who knew. Newspapers. Business. Politics. Vague notions.

So as I watch the graduation ceremonies this weekend I will wonder where the road will take my children. They seem to be on a path. But life is roller coaster ride wonderful and also  has a way of throwing us some curveballs too.  I hope serendipity will be kind, but I’m confident they are prepared for the journey. And I hope I will be around long enough to see many more chapters.

A Tech Cluster in the Works

Lots of tech news happening in these parts

Lots of tech news happening in these parts

Is a tech cluster forming in South Florida?
It sure seems that way according to new research by real estate firm CB Richard Ellis.

Four cities in the Sunshine State made the top 50 list of tech clusters in the most recent survey of technology activity nationwide.

Miami ranked 50th, Fort Lauderdale 48th, Orlando 47th and Tampa 36th in a report card issued by CBRE that includes a range of factors measuring office space, tech jobs, tech degrees and technology investment.

CBRE cited Miami as a particularly fast rising city based on the growth of its millennial population and the explosive buzz around the eMerge conference.

Just like South by Southwest put Austin on the global map, eMerge is creating a brand for Miami.

Closer to home, we are seeing efforts at local universities begin to gain traction.

Lynn University has developed a very close relationship with Apple, with regular site visits by key Lynn leaders to Apple’s plush campus in Cupertino. The relationship is developing new and innovative ways to deliver higher education and promises to make Lynn a global leader in the emerging field. Lynn will have a presence at eMerge to discuss its ambitious and exciting plans.

FAU is also ramping up its efforts with the launch of Tech Runway (full disclosure, I sit on the Tech Runway Advisory Board) and the success of the FAU Research Park which is growing companies including Dan Kane’s latest Modernizing Medicine.

Even the Internet Coast, which was quiet for a while, has re-emerged with a lot of activities and events.

In Delray, technology based firms are quietly setting up shop, attracted by the vibrancy of Atlantic Avenue.

Even off the avenue, we are witnessing some interesting office plays, including a beautiful space operated by Regus (a co-working firm) on Congress Avenue in the newly purchased Arbors building.

Downtown, the 55 Delray building is a virtual beehive or entrepreneurs and Atlantic Plaza boasts the presence of Domain Holdings and Bidtellect, companies founded by the super entrepreneur (and all around cool guy) John Ferber (fuller disclosure, I performed John and his lovely wife Jenna’s wedding ceremony at the Seagate Club a few years back).

Boca Raton has a rich tech heritage as the birthplace of the IBM PC.

Many of the former IBMers remained in the area. Former IBM Boca President Pete Martinez is one of those who stayed here. He’s got a new start-up called Game Changing Technologies that is worth keeping tabs on.

All of this is good news for our community as we diversify the economy beyond real estate, construction and tourism.