David Alter, Sustainable Business Development
David Alter is from the heart of San Francisco's Mission District. As the top marketing executive at San Francisco Community Power, a non-profit helping Bay Area businesses conserve energy and save money, his clients include Kimpton Hotels, Borders Bookstores, British Motors, Laney College, Ghirradeli Square, The Cliff House, JFK University, and Mercedes Benz dealerships of SF and Oakland just to name a few. His work as a sustainable business development specialist working with hundreds of prominent Bay Area business owners led him to a rewarding venture in commercial real estate.
He recently closed a deal successfully negotiating a long term lease on a new location for DOSA, a top 10 restaurant voted by City-search & Michael Bauer of the Chronicle. Specializing in Acquisitions, Retail Leases,Income Generating Property Investment and Sustainable "Green" Business Development David Alter is dedicated to helping his clients yield the highest return on their most important investments.
Available by appointment only
Dear Friends of SSMC,
Austin Mader-Clark / Autopia Biofuels
Basque Cultural Center
Brent Turner / Open Voting Consortium
Coats for Kids
Eric Penington's Auto Body and Paint
Full Bloom Baking Company
Housing Leadership Council
Mori Point Site Stewardship Program
PAR Auto Body
Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance (PTCRA) Shuttle Program
Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance
Pharmaceutical Disposal Program
Redwood City Civic Engagement for Sustainability
Reece Computer Systems
San Mateo AYSO
San Mateo County Interfaith Hospitality Network
Sonrisas Community Dental Center
South Bayside Waste Management Authority (SBWMA)
South San Francisco / Centennial Way
Vista Park Restoration (by San Carlos Green, Parks & Rec., Gachina Landscaping)
Yerba Buena California Native Plant Nursery
Dawes Residence, La Honda (residential)
It's No Time to Forget About Innovation
BY its very nature, innovation is inefficient. While blockbusters do emerge, few of the new products or processes that evolve from innovative thinking ultimately survive the test of time. During periods of economic growth, such inefficiencies are chalked up as part of the price of forging into the future.
But these aren't such times. Wild market gyrations, frozen credit markets and an overall sour economy herald a new round of corporate belt-tightening. Foremost on the target list is anything inefficient. That's bad news for corporate innovation, and it could spell trouble for years to come, even after the economy turns around.
â€œTo be honest, we had a problem with innovation even before the economic crisis. That's the reason I wrote my book,â€ says Judy Estrin, former chief technology officer at Cisco Systems and author of â€œClosing the Innovation Gap.â€ â€œWe're focusing on the short term and we're not planting the seeds for the future.â€
In tough times, of course, many companies have to scale back. But, she says: â€œTo quote Obama, you don't use a hatchet. You use a scalpel. Leaders need to pick and choose with great care.â€
There are important things managers can do to ensure that creative forward-thinking doesn't go out the door with each round of layoffs. Fostering a companywide atmosphere of innovation â€” encouraging everyone to take risks and to think about novel solutions, from receptionists to corner-suite executives â€” helps ensure that the loss of any particular set of minds needn't spell trouble for the entire company.
She suggests instilling five core values to entrench innovation in the corporate mind-set: questioning, risk-taking, openness, patience and trust. All five must be used together â€” risk-taking without questioning leads to recklessness, she says, while patience without trust sets up an every-man-for-himself mentality.
In an era of Six Sigma black belts and brown belts, Ms. Estrin urges setting aside certain efficiency measures in favor of what she calls â€œgreen-thumb leadershipâ€ â€” a future-oriented management style that understands, and even encourages, taking risks. Let efficiency measures govern the existing â€œfactory farm,â€ she says, but create greenhouses and experimental gardens along the sides of the farm to nurture the risky investments that likely will take a number of years to bear fruit.
â€œI'm not suggesting you only cut from today's stuff and keep the future part untouched,â€ she says. â€œYou have to balance it.â€
Yet even that approach has its drawbacks. Companies that create silos of innovation by designating one group as the â€œbig thinkersâ€ while making others handle day-to-day concerns risk losing their innovative edge if any of the big thinkers leave the company or ultimately must be laid off.
â€œInnovation has to be embedded in the daily operation, in the entire work force,â€ says Jon Fisher, a business professor, serial entrepreneur, and author of â€œStrategic Entrepreneurism,â€ which advocates building a start-up's business from the beginning with an eye toward selling the company. â€œA large acquirer's interest in a start-up or smaller company is binary in nature: They either want you or they don't, based on the innovation you have to offer. The best way to foster innovation is to create something, put it to the test, build a good company and then get it under the umbrella of a world-renowned company to move it forward.â€
David Thompson, chief executive and co-founder of Genius.com Inc., based in San Mateo, Calif., says that innovation â€œhas a bad name in down timesâ€ but that â€œbad times focus the mind and the best-focused minds in the down times are looking for the opportunities.â€
â€œYou do have to batten down the hatches and reduce expenses, but you can't do it at the expense of the big picture,â€ Mr. Thompson adds. â€œYou always have to keep in mind the bigger picture that's coming down the road in two or three years.
â€œThe last thing you want to do with innovation is just throw money at it. It's a very tricky balance.â€
In fact, hard times can be the source of innovative inspiration, says Chris Shipley, a technology analyst and executive producer of the DEMO conferences, where new ideas make their debuts. â€œSome of the best products and services come out of some of the worst times,â€ she says. In the early 1990s, tens of millions of dollars had gone down the drain in a futile effort to develop â€œpen computingâ€ â€” an early phase of mobile computing â€” and a recession was shriveling the economic outlook.
Yet the tiny Palm Computing managed to revitalize the entire industry in a matter of months by transforming itself overnight from a software maker into a hardware company.
â€œOur biggest challenge right now is fear,â€ she says. â€œThe worst thing that a company can do right now is go into hibernation, into duck-and-cover. If you just sit on your backside and wait for things to get better, they're not going to. They're going to get better for somebody, but not necessarily for you.â€
HOWARD LIEBERMAN, also a serial entrepreneur and founder of the Silicon Valley Innovation Institute, says innovation breeds effectiveness. It's not about efficiency, he argues. â€œEfficiency is for bean counters,â€ he says. â€œIt's not for C.E.O.'s or inventors or founders.â€
The current economic downturn comes as no surprise to him, he says, because it mirrors the downturn at the time of the dot-com bust. Then and now, the companies that survive are those that keep creativity and innovation foremost.
â€œCreativity doesn't care about economic downturns,â€ Mr. Lieberman says. â€œIn the middle of the 1970s, when we were having a big economic downturn, both Apple and Microsoft were founded. Creative people don't care about the time or the season or the state of the economy; they just go out and do their thing.â€
At the West Coast Green Expo, I was inspired by an innovative company that is leading the way in energy conservation technology called Agilewaves. Home and building owners can finally monitor and automate the steps needed to reduce their energy consumption, carbon footprint and operating costs without relying on human intervention. Here is the link to their website:
"Be The Change You Want To See In The World" - Ghandi
I am working with an exciting new company here in San Francisco
as Director of Innovations at Absolutely New, Inc.
They have invested over $35 million building their business. In addition, they are financially backed by a top-tier Silicon Valley venture capital firm. After reviewing hundreds of investment opportunities they decided to back Absolutely New. And with $400 million under management, they provide access to significant growth capital.
I'll be working with entrepreneurs launching innovative product development and marketing initiatives worldwide.
I'm also a big fan of CNBC's show called "The Big Idea with Donny Deutch."
Here's a clip:
And remember that Tuesday is election day.
ROCK THE VOTE
Dosa's new Filmore location should finally be opening in November.
Excited to see the new GREEN design elements of the completely renovated building.http://www.dosasf.com/df_index.html
Their new location will seat 200 and be much bigger than the original Mission restaurant on Valencia. It's kitchen will be three times as big and offer an expanded menu including catering.
Stay tuned to their website: