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Incredible fuel could treat countless diseases, if only it was funded

Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart problems, concussions, and more could all be treated with this simple ketone ester, but because the science isn’t as sexy as genetics, it remains unfunded. All it would take is one startup millionaire to step in. One.

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This could be as impactful as the discovery of penicillin

That’s the first thing that comes to mind when learning about the history-altering work of NIH scientist (for over 45 years) Dr. Richard Veech, a man the general public has probably never heard of.

Why haven’t you heard of him? Because he’s dedicated to science, not sales. So, what do scientists and entrepreneurs have in common? They both dedicate their lives to making a difference, discovering ways to make the world operate more effectively. But there’s an important cultural distinction between the two: Entrepreneurs’ success is tied to dollars, while scientists’ success is tied to discovery.

Remember how penicillin altered history? We might be at that moment in history again, but with a “ketone ester” drink invented by Dr. Veech, that has insanely widespread uses. Imagine a drink that could treat Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, epilepsy, concussions, heart failure, all while helping elite endurance athletes break world records. Then, imagine that it’s a formula perfected over decades, but only now ready in an era where genetics is sexiest of sciences, so this liquid goes underfunded and underproduced. It seems too good to be true, but it’s not. It’s real.

Add to the issue of funding is an overly modest old scientist who said he would literally run if someone called him a hero for his work.

Next, toss in imitation products that use salt-filled caffeinated versions of Dr. Veech’s decades old, already discarded work and you might be left very confused. If a breakthrough sports drink and patient treatment exists, would anyone even believe it?

So what is this ketone ester?

Ketones are human’s back up fuel system that kicks in when humans starve, or at least run out of sugar. The body then burns fat to create an efficient ketone fuel. What many of the therapeutic uses (including Alzheimer’s) have in common is the brain’s blockage of the path to use sugar for energy, meanwhile ketones can bypass this blockage and simply fuels the brain.

Dr. Veech invented a way to bottle that fuel, in a fat-free and salt-free super FDA-approved concentrated food, not a drug. Ketosis is the metabolic state that uses ketones as a primary fuel source, but is mainly known by those that undergo an Atkin-like ketogenic high fat diet. This is drastically different because you get the benefits of ketones without the drawbacks of the high fat. Some call the fat-free version of ketosis, “Veetosis,” in honor of Dr. Veech, the doctor who holds the key to so many treatments.

The catch is that even though billions can be made from this invention, it is unbelievably expensive to make and there’s no funding for an older scientist that doesn’t schmooze. How expensive? For scientific purposes, labs can make a patented product, and for this exact ester they charge $60,000 per 25 mL serving, but with a newly discovered process and an investment, that could drop quickly to $20 a drink.

Absent a single investment, perhaps that can be done via the new world of crowdfunding (or rich, science-inclined geeky startup folks), so hopefully you’ll see Dr. Veech’s ketone ester on shelves sooner rather than later.

The path to the discovery has been long

Dr. Veech worked in 1966 with Dr. Cahill (the man that starved volunteers to prove the brain could run on ketones), and in 1969 under nobel laureate Dr. Krebs (if you took chemistry, you have definitely heard of the Krebs cycle). Dr Veech solved a problem which Krebs delegated to him. Krebs said he must be wrong, only to come back later to co-author the longest paper of Krebs’ career. It was the foundation for understanding why ketones work. Right now, our science geek readers get it – Dr Veech is a pretty big deal, and his work should be taken seriously.

Fast forward to 1995, Dr. Veech co-authored a breakthrough paper on how ketones change metabolism, and in 2000, a paper on Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and abolishing the effects of free radical damage.

In 2004, as part of a competition to find a new fuel for the special forces, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), gave a handful of groups $2 million each per year. Only Dr Veech’s group, including Oxford University partner Dr. Kieran Clarke, was left standing. They earned $10 million of total funding, resulting in an FDA-approved food. Who would have guessed DARPA’s role in potentially treating millions of patients with this new food?

A modest scientist does not a salesman make

Even a simple Oxford-approved boxing study to demonstrate ketone ester’s benefits for concussions hasn’t been picked up. One would think a football team owner might want to donate to prove a treatment backed by science that may bring a $20 million a year quarterback that has been earholed, back onto the field a few games earlier. Not to mention, the league could limit the potential liability around debilitating diseases plaguing players decades later.

So the path to the discovery has been long, but anyone we spoke to that was aware of Dr. Veech’s work sung his praises. The challenge is that the older sharp-tongued doctor is hyper-focused on his work, isn’t interested in fame, noting that it is “unseemly for doctors to promote themselves,” and that it is “not part of the job.” Times have changed, and modesty has been replaced by self promotion, as the driver in today’s world of discoveries.

Ketone esters have had success with human testing

In endurance sports, the ketone ester has been proven in a lab to increase output by up to 2%. That can be the difference between a gold and not placing. When tested on 19 elite rowers, there were nine season’s bests, five personal bests and one world record. Only one did slightly worse than the placebo test.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mary Newport was trying to treat her husband with Alzheimer’s and discovered Dr. Veech’s work while digging around in his 20+ patents. She was the author of “Alzheimer’s Disease What If There Was a Cure, The Story of Ketones” about her coconut oil therapy that naturally releases ketones, which she said turned her husband’s “lights back on.” Hundreds have written to her claiming similar results. Ultimately, her husband received Dr. Veech’s ketone ester for a few years and Dr. Newport said it was 10x more effective than the coconut therapy.

Think about that for a minute. The lights came back on! Why is the world not freaking out with excitement!?

Another believer in ketones and Dr. Veech is William Curtis. He has had Parkinson’s for over 15 years, and despite being on the common cocktail of meds, he had tremors, severe muscle spasms, and sometimes stared at the computer screen for hours, nearly frozen. With a little biochem in undergrad, he searched and came across Dr. Veech’s papers, emailed with the doctor, and sought alternative natural ways to raise his ketone levels (also referred to as D-bhb levels).

Dr. Veech told him that absent the availability of clinical trials with the ester, and as long as his primary care doctor approved, Curtis could try a high fat morning drink to increase his ketone levels. After some tweaks and fasting each night, Curtis says his results were stellar. He could concentrate for hours, spasm free, and was able to drive again. Dr. Veech has warned Curtis to watch his cholesterol and to stay on his meds. Curtis continues his routine today, shares his successes online, and plans to continue until the ketone ester is available in clinical trials.

This generation’s most significant medical discovery

The final problem is that scientists write papers and seek grants which don’t require a monetary return on investment; for many it’s just not in their nature to write a business plan and go to a bunch of pitch offs.

We believe that with billions being thrown at sciences like space travel, it seems that investors or Congress should be primed to pump a few dollars into a simple ester to treat a dozen common medical problems that impact all of us as individuals and is nearly bankrupting the country.

We will be following Dr. Veech’s progress (he even finally has his own website), and works as he blazes a path in the scientific community, and hopefully soon, the business community. It is our sincere hope that investors (both government, traditional, and non-traditional) “read the damn papers,” as Dr. Veech says, because we believe that he’s sitting on our generation’s equivalent of the discovery of penicillin. If not bigger.

UPDATE: Dr. Veech is now on Twitter so you can connect with him.

#Veetosis

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and sister news outlet, The Real Daily, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. A. Will

    February 17, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Fascinating

  2. Britt

    February 19, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Interesting question if the body could even use the ketone ester without limiting carbs or glucose present in the blood?

    • Rob Coberly

      February 26, 2016 at 6:32 pm

      You may be thinking about hepatic ketogenesis, which is suppressed by carbohydrate intake. Unquestionably many tissues can make immediate use of the dominant circulating ketone body, beta-hydroxybutyrate. This is the substance that is liberated upon absorption of the ester. Veech and Kieran Clarke have published the human studies including pharmacokinetics.
      These are fuels that are taken up and enter metabolism freely in proportion to their concentration. There is a monocarboxylate transporter that moves BHB across the blood brain barrier as well. All of that is not suppressed by any other dietary intake.
      A good reference is this – “Ketone body metabolism and cardiovascular disease” which covers the general metabolism well.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23396451

  3. Christopher J

    February 22, 2016 at 2:15 am

    I’ve been thinking exactly this for the last year. Upon the emergency room endocrinologists asking me why I’d want to kill my 7 year old nephew and his kidneys, after I suggested a ketogenic diet when they revealed he in fact had type 1 diabetes, I’ve been researching this metabolic wonder ever since. The author missed one of the biggest target therapies; cancer! We’re talking billions upon billions of dollars. The scope is massive.

    • Lani Rosales

      February 25, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      Hey Christopher, thanks for weighing in – Dr. Veech opted not to comment on cancer, and although some people do seem to feel confident in ketones’ potentiality for treatment, I’m sure Dr. Veech has his reasons for not associating the two at this time.

  4. Rob Coberly

    February 22, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    I strongly agree that investigation into the potential benefits of moderate ketosis for many medical conditions is justified. Moderate ketonemia may be induced by administration of ketone body esters – these are esters of either of the principal ketone bodies, beta-hydroxy butyrate and acetoacetate, usually esterified with butanediol – or by ketone body salts, or medium-chain triglycerides. The esters are most direct and efficient, they have no sodium or potassium load as the salts do, and they do not require the stages of oxidative metabolism followed by hepatic ketogenesis that the MCTs must undergo. The elevated circulating ketone body levels may reach the 2-5 mM range, physiologic as if in a prolonged fasting state, and this state is fundamentally different from the dangerous and pathologic condition of diabetic ketoacidosis.

    For decades, much of pharmacotherapy has focused on the more complex molecules that may interact with cell surface receptors, nuclear receptors, or enzymes. We haven’t heard much about these small molecules, the ketone bodies, in medical applications; but thanks to the work of many researchers, there is mounting evidence for potential usefulness in many difficult conditions such as neurodegenerative diseases, inflammatory diseases, and metabolic disorders. The ketone bodies were recognized early on as biologic “substrates and signals”. They are now known to function both as versatile and efficient cellular fuels and as signaling molecules that deliver messages – promoting increases in cell antioxidant capacity, in mitochondrial biogenesis and the “browning” of adipose tissue, and decreases in inflammation, in overexcitation of neurons, and reactive oxygen species generation. When therapeutically employed, the KBs are also likely to support many intracellular functions in various tissues without interference or interaction with most of our commonly employed medications, as the mechanisms of action should be distinct.

    In addition to the exogenous ketone approach long championed by Dr Veech, Dr Kieran Clarke and more recently by Dr Dominic D’Agostino, I also support similar broad research into ketogenic and other low-carbohydrate diets. These diets are already known to benefit epilepsy, obesity, mitochondrial diseases, and disorders of insulin resistance. Ketone bodies may be a principal mediator of some of these benefits, but the diet’s decreased reliance on carbohydrate intake and thus glycolysis may also be vital in lowering excessive insulin secretion, preserving the NAD+/NADH ratio in cytoplasm to a range favorable for the epigenetic actions of sirtuins, and decreasing the potentially damaging “reductive pressure” placed on the mitochondrial respiratory complexes by typical “Western” diets. Such low carbohydrate diets are actually not very difficult to follow; anyone interested may consult the published work of Dr Stephen Phinney and Dr Jeff Volek.

    Rob Coberly MD
    Albuquerque

  5. Angie

    February 24, 2016 at 11:09 am

    I drink pure therapeutic ketones everyday! Ketones have cleared my mind, given me sustained level energy. I am free from anxiety that I’ve lived with for 17 years. I’m so thankful for these brilliant dedicated scientists!

    • Jose

      February 25, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      Angie, the Ketone Esters that are featured here are not available. Do you have a connection with NIH? And if you are taking the “Salts”, perhaps you didn’t read the part about the imitation products mentioned.

  6. Peter H

    February 25, 2016 at 2:05 am

    I find this line particularly interesting
    “toss in imitation products that use salt-filled caffeinated versions of Dr. Veech’s decades old, already discarded work.. ”

    Yet those same companies link to this article as if it validates their completely different product. Hum.

    I guess the caffeine results in skim reading.

  7. JB

    February 25, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    There is at least one commercially available supplement that will provide what is generally considered to be a therapeutic level of ketones, demonstrable through any of the usual testing methods. The “salt” is a BHB compound that facilitates delivery of the BHB in a drink mix, and it helps to buffer the acidity of the ketones in the blood as well as help replace salt the body naturally loses in ketosis (elevated ketone levels are known to have a diuretic effect). This is based on a formula patented by Dr Dominic D’agostina and a few others (mentioned in Dr Coberly’s post above). And it’s available without caffeine. So if it delivers the ketones at that level why would it not have value on its own merit, especially given that it’s actually available and affordable? Dismissing it out of hand as an “imitation product” requires some substantiation.

    • Shane

      February 25, 2016 at 11:32 pm

      Yes, I take the product with alkaline ionized water. Because a having ketones can lower your blood ph levels. everyone who takes the product should have an ionizer to mix the product.

    • Rob Coberly

      February 26, 2016 at 6:37 pm

      Right, KetoCaNa. BHB calcium and sodium salts. And no caffeine. Is the BHB a racemic mixture? I don’t know the answer to that.

      • JB

        February 27, 2016 at 12:35 pm

        The one I’m familiar with has only been on the market for a few months and is called Keto//OS. It’s a combination of BHB and a (proprietary I think) MCT powder. Couldn’t tell you whether it’s racemic. It is based on a formula developed at USF on an Office of Naval Research grant by Dr Dominic D’agostina and Angela Poff to reduce incidents of seizures in divers with excellent results. And it does deliver a therapeutic level of ketones (AKA ketosis, just not dietary ketosis). Sounds like a real thing to me so I’m just wondering if there’s a more specific comparison to the esters as far as efficacy, etc.

  8. Peter H

    February 26, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    He invented the Salts too, 10-15 years ago. If what he found worked, he would have pursued it. But the amount of salt necessary to get bhb levels up enough would require the consumption of about one restaurant salt shaker. Huge difference. There is a reason there is no lab proof of any gain with the salts. Even one study in Europe said bhb didn’t work on a rat study. Oops, they used the Salts. Didn’t work. Won’t magically work on humans.

    • JB

      February 27, 2016 at 12:43 pm

      The product I have experience with provides a ketone level in the “ketosis” range (.5 to 5+ mmol) detectable with urine or blood testing. Many of the commonly described characteristics of ketosis are in evidence. So if the BHB and acetoacetate levels are there, what “doesn’t work”? Where is the functional difference?

  9. Rob Coberly

    February 27, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    I am pleased overall that various products are being marketed and discussed for promoting moderate ketosis. Whether based on MCTs and/or ketone salt mixtures, or based on ketone esters, all should get BOHB and AcAc into circulation to some degree, and all should be safe when properly manufactured. So no one is likely to be hurt by them, the first consideration in medicine. They may differ in efficiency, or in concentration range achieved. The products various parties have been able to bring to market so far are all at an early stage of public experimentation and adoption. Time, experience, and more science will likely tell us what the differences among methods actually mean for health.

    I’m not going to tackle in this comment the various reasons to expect that ketosis may promote health and diminish risk for various chronic illnesses. The ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, calorie restriction, and induced ketosis appear to me to each be distinct but related alterations in diet, energy metabolism and therefore biochemistry. These likely form an overlapping set of interventions. If any of these techniques share common mediators, the ketone bodies would be principal candidates. For many of us there are good reasons to adopt a very low carbohydrate diet, and thus produce our own ketosis by lipolysis, beta-oxidation, and hepatic ketogenesis. Bear in mind that exogenous ketone bodies may downregulate our own lipolysis by the activity of BOHB at the GPR109a receptor on adipose cells.

    I’ve been looking at my reference collection to find any documentation pertinent to the issue of BOHB racemic mixtures. This is an issue that conceivably could make a difference in the quality or efficiency of the products we are discussing. D-beta hydroxybutyrate, also described as (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate, is the predominant ketone body in circulation. It is enzymatically interchangeable with (non-chiral, less stable) acetoacetate in a redox reaction that occurs intracellularly and this reaction is the first step toward ketone body oxidation (which will yield acetyl-CoA leading to ATP production via the TCA cycle and oxidative phosphorylation).

    So, is L-beta hydroxybutyrate different in any important ways? It would be a component of the synthetic racemic BOHB mixtures. So far I’ve found enough to make me want to continue research on this question. And I’m sure there are knowledgeable individuals who could tell us more.
    1-“One of the KB, BHB, is optically active and as the chemically-manufactured form is an equal mixture of the D- and L-isomers. Endogenous BHB is the D-isomer and mammalian tissues have no recognized pathways for conventional oxidation of the L-form (Robinson & Williamson, 1980). This would suggest that half of any administered exogenous BHB may be metabolically useless. …All these studies have used the racemic mixture of BHB and must be interpreted with some caution because of uncertainty about the pathways available for the metabolism of the L-isomer (Robinson & Williamson,1980) which has constituted half the infused load.” from Ketone Bodies As Substrates, Rich AJ, Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 1990, 49, 361-373.
    2- “The ketone bodies enter extra-hepatic tissues on the same carrier, where other monocarboxylates can act as competitive inhibitors. Unphysiological isomers such as D-lactate or (S)-3-hydroxybutyrate can also act as competitive inhibitors to ketone body transport. Since ketone body transport across the blood brain barrier is a limiting factor to ketone body utilization in brain every effort should be made to keep the blood concentration of these unphysiological enantiomers at low levels during ketogenic therapy. When blood ketone body concentrations are elevated to levels found in starvation, heart, muscle, kidney and brain utilize ketone bodies as the preferred energy substrate.” from US2001/0014696A1, patent, RL Veech.

  10. Rob Coberly

    February 28, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    Concerning specific DBHB, or racemic mixtures. There are a few references. Anyone who has more, please chime in.

    References to L-beta hydroxybutyrate are not common. Even the classic 1980 Robinson and Williamson “substrates and signals” review of ketone bodies expressed uncertainty about any metabolic role for the L isomer. That paper does note that, “…The presently known pathway of utilization of the L(+)-isomer is different from that of D( -)-3-hydroxybutyrate since 3-hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase is specific for the D-(-)-isomer…and there is no evidence for the existence of either a mitochondrial L-3-hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase or a racemase catalyzing the interconversion of L( +) and D( -)-3-hydroxybutyrate…” So observations about D BHB are not likely to just carry over to L BHB. One of the important enzymes leading into metabolism is specific for the D isomer only.

    Importantly, from “D-beta-Hydroxybutyrate rescues mitochondrial respiration and mitigates features of Parkinson disease”, Serge Przedborski et al, The Journal of Clinical Investigation, September 2003, Volume 112, Number 6 – excerpts.
    “…Circulating DbetaHB readily crosses the blood-brain barrier and enters mitochondria, where it is metabolized by beta-hydroxy-butyrate dehydrogenase to acetoacetate; the latter is converted to acetyl-CoA, which feeds into the Krebs cycle…To control for the specificity of DbetaHB neuroprotection, another set of MPTP-injected mice received infusion of the inactive isomer LbetaHB. In these mice, the loss of dopaminergic neurons was as severe as in mice infused with vehicle…Thus, DbetaHB, but not its inactive isomer, can attenuate neurotoxic effects of MPTP on dopaminergic cell bodies in the (substantia nigra pars compacta) and nerve fibers in the striatum…Consistent with DbetaHB being a mitochondrial substrate, we found that it increased oxygen consumption in a dose-dependent manner…The effects of DbetaHB in supporting mitochondrial respiration are stereospecific, since the inactive isomer LbetaHB failed to improve oxidative phosphorylation…As shown in Table 3, DbetaHB increased ATP production from a base line of 5.37 ± 0.30 nmol/mg protein to 76.16 ± 6.11 nmol/mg protein. The increase of ATP production was not detected with the inactive isomer L`HB (3.85 ± 0.24 nmol/mg protein)…”

    That is, L BHB and D BHB were both studied, in living mice and in brain mitochondrial preparations from those mice; the L isomer did not support oxidative phosphorylation and did not provide neuroprotection from mitochondrial toxins. The ATP content measured (their table 3) showed cells given L BHB had a lower content than with no substrate at all.

    It will be more expensive to obtain stereospecific D BHB, but it is most likely to be worth it. I am concerned that inactive L BHB may compete with D BHB for blood brain barrier transport, or cell or mitochondria entry. I wonder if that has been looked at.

  11. keith

    March 22, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    I don’t agree with the line about getting the benefits without the dangers of a high fat diet. When following a ketogenic diet your body uses fats differently than when eating the same fats on a carb based diet. For example on a ketogenic diet the blood levels of saturated fat is lower (what really matters) even when consumption of these saturated fats has increased.

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The best jobs in America, 2018 edition

(BUSINESS NEWS) Is your job on the list of the best jobs? Is this your year?

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Whether you love or hate your job, like any other human, you want to know how it ranks on the list of all occupations. And also like any other human, you know that the tech industry is going to dominate any ranked list of this nature.

And of course, you’re right.

Indeed’s 2018 list of The Best Jobs in the United States, the top 25 are mostly tech jobs.

The jobs themselves range wildly in terms of salary, required education level, field, and availability, though all fall above the $75,000 per year mark. As is to be expected, a large number of the jobs in question are located in the tech field, though you might be surprised to see several other fields holding prominent spots as well.

One such field is construction, though there are a couple of caveats in the field’s growth itself. As job persuasions such as construction management and construction estimator make their way onto the list of the top 25 jobs of 2018, the respective hiring departments are forced to contend with decreasing searches for construction jobs as the year has progressed.

While the results should speak for themselves, it’s clear that anyone looking to hire in the construction field will have a bit of pandering on their hands.

Tech jobs such as full stack developer and computer vision engineer are still at the top of the list – a position which hasn’t changed much from last year – and the actual number one spot, while not quite as tech-oriented as past years, is commercial project manager.

Indeed notes that the position of the role of machine learning engineer is especially surprising (spot number 4) given its number 17 spot on last year’s list.

Naturally, the rise in self-driving technology and the interest in AI has most likely influenced the sudden jump this year; if you’re someone with the proper education and skills in the machine learning department, this should be your year.

A couple of outliers on the list include plumbing engineer (spot number 14), registered nurse in the infusion field (spot number 24), and optometrist (spot number 7). As Indeed points out, healthcare roles in 2018 have made an unexpected appearance on this list; naturally, such positions fall on the “more education” side of the spectrum, but their involvement makes for a nice contrast with the normal tech backdrop.

The full top 25 list:

  1. Commercial project manager
  2. Full stack developer
  3. Computer vision engineer
  4. Machine learning engineer
  5. Preconstruction manager
  6. Construction superintendent
  7. Optometrist
  8. Data scientist
  9. Chief estimator
  10. Development operations engineer
  11. Agile coach
  12. Construction estimator
  13. Senior talent acquisition manager
  14. Plumbing engineer
  15. Project superintendent
  16. Staff pharmacist
  17. Head of sales
  18. Commercial real estate agent
  19. Construction manager
  20. Project architect
  21. Product owner
  22. Senior clinical specialist
  23. UX researcher
  24. Registered nurse – infusion
  25. Partnership manager

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How the Lean concept can have the biggest impact on your bottom line

(BUSINESS) Using the Lean business concept and asking the non-sexy question of “What’s dumb around here?” your business will outpace your competitors in no time.

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Entrepreneurs love solving problems. That’s what they’re good at doing. In fact, the more complex, difficult and messy the problem, the more the entrepreneur will enjoy the challenge. Entrepreneurs are especially good at solving problems that nobody knew were there. Think about Steve Jobs: He knew that we needed a pocket MP3 player before we even knew what it was.

While entrepreneurs are coming up with the next “big” thing, we need the non-entrepreneurs in our organizations focused on solving the small problems in our company with the same enthusiasm. Imagine if every one of your team members were consistently looking for opportunities to improve your systems, processes and service delivery. Those subtle changes made in the non-sexy parts of the business usually have the biggest impact on the bottom line.

This is a business concept called Lean, in which a company changes their processes to create the most benefit to the customer using the least amount of resources possible. Lean is commonly used in the manufacturing industry, but its principles can be used in any business to change the way of thinking and doing things.

I recently witnessed a great example of how Lean principles were used to improve one of my clients, LuminUltra – a leading provider of microbiological testing hardware, software and services. The company serves industries that need to know quickly and accurately what’s living in their water. At a recent quarterly planning session at the LuminUltra offices in Fredericton, Canada, COO Charlie Younger shared a powerful story about the company’s manufacturing facility and challenging the status quo.

During the expansion of the company’s manufacturing facility, one of the team members was lamenting to Charlie about how much time it took to complete a lengthy step of the manufacturing process – one specific quality check that was very time-consuming. He remarked that in the history of the company they never had a single machine fail the test. Charlie’s first thought was, do they even need to perform this specific test again?

After more discussion with colleagues, the team realized that the other quality checks performed earlier in the manufacturing process would always identify a defective unit. With this knowledge, the manufacturing team asked for permission to perform minimal testing to still provide assurance with less work. When presented with the information, the company leadership agreed that it was a great idea and would save time and money as well as improve the employee experience. But the bigger question was: Why hadn’t anyone ever questioned this lengthy step of the manufacturing process before?

Charlie, having run Lean programs in the past, has seen this issue before: People continue to do what they’ve always done even if they think there is a better way. He thought this would be a great opportunity to use a fun, simple but elegant technique to capture other status quo breakers – in other words, he decided to use the same principles for changing the company’s production process to make other company decisions.

With that, he posted a whiteboard in the manufacturing room with the title “What’s Dumb Around Here?” and encouraged team members to capture possible “dumb things” to add to it. These topics are discussed and vetted during their Lean process meetings to determine if they can be improved.

When I discussed the new process with Charlie, he noted, “First, you have to create an environment where people are willing to question the status quo. We have always been highly focused on quality and accuracy, so the team thought it was outrageous to openly question a quality check we had been performing for years.”

He continued, “You have to help your management team be open to receiving ideas that might seem crazy and not overreact to the suggestions. Instead, simply ask them to explain their logic. More often than not, the front line knows a better way to do things but does not know how to navigate the change. The beauty of using Lean techniques is that you now have an easy navigation path to discuss, approve and roll out changes. Suddenly, you have an energized front line solving problems with minimal involvement from management – how great is that?”

While LuminUltra continues to grow their product line and expand into new markets, it expects that its implementation of Lean principles will help it make subtle but important modifications to processes that will positively affect its bottom line. The CEO, Pat Whalen, remarked, “If we can produce our products faster and more cost effectively and get them into the hands of our customers faster, we can have an even bigger impact on the water sector with our microbiological monitoring products. I need all of our team members thinking how we can improve every single day. The water sector needs us.”

Every visionary, big-thinking entrepreneur needs a team that challenges the status quo. How are you encouraging your team members to identify, “What’s Dumb Around Here?”

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Verb develops your team’s talent while making a major social impact

(BUSINESS NEWS) Any sized team can improve their talent, but add in a dash of social good, and Verb has the platform to rule them all.

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More organizations are looking to offer training opportunities for their employees (but with an emphasis on more efficiency, cost effectiveness, and impact than traditional classroom instruction) – and there are a number of solutions. Organizations can seek to leverage those same on-demand resources that consumers are using (Like Lynda.com) or using their own internal corporate learning solutions to host content (like Cornerstone On-Demand, Accord, or other LMS (that’s uh – Learning Management System, non-talent TD folks)) providers, and hope by doing so they develop employees and solve the variety of skill gaps that are emerging for a millennial and post-millennial workforce.

Verb seeks to offer a flexible learning solution that also solves a secondary challenge: getting employees to be more engaged with work.

The product offers subscription style learning, offering focusing on the core skills like communication and leadership skills. Specific skill development is bestowed upon employees through four types of learning elements: articles, activities, courses, and impact programs. This suggests that the learning is focused not only on content and theoretical learning, but also activity based and impact styles of learning to help employees transfer those skills into the workplace.

The standout of this learning solutions it that it seeks to drive in something that a lot of young professions seek – purpose.

Verb connects with social impact organizations to facilitate learning opportunities and promote development. A great example from their blog is a Summer partnership with United Way for Greater Austin (check it out) where they conducted a five-week leadership program that taught local nonprofit professionals how to communicate their organizational strategy and mission more effectively with pitch decks.

Adding in purpose is an emphasis on mentoring, where social entrepreneurs can become impact partners and connect with brands to help improve their visibility, awareness, and credibility.

Social entrepreneurs have a real opportunity to generate their visibility and gain more attention, companies like Sproutel (which have this awesome story about Jerry the Bear – you’re gonna cry if you watch it!) or TOMS both have gained some attention via Verb.

The benefits here are pretty clear – organizations can get a learning solution that helps them develop their employees more effectively and can collect learning metrics that help justify their expense and demonstrate impact.

The most highly regarded quality is mentoring opportunities created to connect them with social impact organizations – and those social entrepreneurs benefit from their visibility. From a learning professional – the opportunity to have experience learning, mentoring, and an engagement opportunity seems like a rare bundle – and one that can be particularly valuable for large and small organizations.

Talent development is a significant investment, and Verb looks like a pretty awesome solution that can nestle in beside other talent development strategies.

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