(Not Anything) Like Riding a Bike
East Bench Business Association Fall Mixer

If you drove by Harbor Seafood and Steak Monday morning you may have noticed a group of adults riding a bike or, more specifically, falling off a bike. And we are not ashamed to say that was us—the East Bench Business Association! We had the pleasure of hearing from the ingenious Jared Madsen of Madsen Cycles, and attempting to ride his elusively hard-to-steer reverse-handled bike. (Turn the handlebars left and the bike goes right; mind bending, right?!) We also heard from Ariane Dansie, founder of Yapay Bolivia, and Whitney Foley, owner/developer of Static Schmatic.

What do a cargo bike company, a Bolivian non-profit organization, and a household static product have in common? Creative problem solving. Or more specifically, as Jared Madsen puts it, “Knowing your strengths, finding your path and staying flexible.”

Jared knows quite a bit about discovering strengths and staying flexible. Jared was diagnosed with dyslexia (now known as divergent learning) at a young age. His reverse-handled bike is his metaphor for comparing learning styles. For about 90% of us, learning in traditional settings with traditional methods is like learning to ride a traditional bike. For the other 10%, those with divergent learning patterns, learning to ride a bike under these traditional systems is like asking them to ride a reverse-handled bike; their mind is wired to learn in a fundamentally different way.

It turns out many small business owners and entrepreneurs, including Jared, fit into this divergent-thinking category. A London School of Economics study estimates that as many as 35% of entrepreneurs in the U.S. are considered divergent thinkers; three times as many as the average population. For Jared, and many other entrepreneurs, this unique way of learning and approaching a problem contributes to small business success. Anyone who works with Jared will tell you he has grit, creativity, people skills, and the ability to see a problem from different angles; all traits consistent with successful divergent learners.

When Ariane Dansie, this month’s Outstanding Neighbor Award recipient, co-founded Yapay Bolivia a little over a year ago she was unprepared for the challenges her organization would face transporting medical equipment to Bolivia. “We had no idea what we were getting into,” she laughs good naturedly, “We thought it would be as simple as getting old medical equipment from IHC and packing it in our suitcases.”

Ariane and her team soon found getting hospital equipment into the country a monumental task. Bolivia’s anti-American custom policies restrict medical devices brought into the country from the United States. After months of troubleshooting and finally hiring two highly-capable and motivated BYU interns, Yapay Bolivia delivered dialysis machines to Hospital St. Japones in Santa Cruz, Bolivia just two weeks ago. Ariane graciously thanked many in the room who donated money to their crowdfunding campaign, “We couldn’t have given what we have without many in this room. I’m a bit emotional [just having returned from Bolivia], but I want you all to know that your donations have made a difference.” Then turning to Jared, “And I could use more non-linear problem solving in my life. It’s so hard to step out of your comfort zone, but it’s the only way things happen!”

For Whitney Foley, Static Schmatic was a creative solution to an electric problem: how to deal with relentless static without dousing herself, her children or her pets in chemicals. Rather than just cope with this everyday nuisance, Whitney and her mother engaged a chemist to come up with an all-natural formula for combatting static. Since their original formula was developed, they have branched out to include formulas for pets and hair. She was kind enough to hand out samples to everyone attending our breakfast.

A big thanks to our guest speaker Jared Madsen, for his willingness to share his struggles and successes with the group. He and his wife Lisa, the heart and mind behind Madsen Cycle’s brilliant social media and marketing campaigns, are pillars in the community and we are grateful for their support. We thank Ariane Dansie for her tireless work supporting a cause that is close to her heart, and now ours. And Whitney Foley, who’s involvement in an Aspen, Colorado small business luncheon group, became the nexus for us starting the East Bench Business Association and for sharing her product and story with us.

We hope to see you all in early 2018 at our next breakfast! And don’t forget to support our gracious host, Randall, at Harbor Seafood and Steak.