Invention Turns Smartphones into Heart Monitors

David C. Albert is an Oklahoma City-based cardiologist, inventor and the founder of three tech companies. His latest venture, which he started at age 56, sells a product that has caught the attention of many in the health care industry.

The AliveCor System turns a smartphone into a portable, clinical-quality heart monitor. As explained in this recent piece by syndicated columnist Froma Harrop, Albert’s invention allows a user to attach a box to a smartphone, place the phone on his or her chest and send the EKG results to a doctor or cardiac technician via an app. The recipient can review the results in a matter of minutes.

The device may have saved the life of an airline passenger who had discomfort in the middle of a flight. The pilot made an emergency landing after a doctor on board used the AliveCor box and app to determine that the man was having a heart attack.

Harrop reports on AliveCor as part of a larger look at whether an aging population may be good for economic growth. The story cites Kauffman Foundation statistics that show the typical entrepreneur is more likely to be over 45 rather than under 30.

Albert concurs with those numbers. “In health care, there are no 25-year-old entrepreneurs,” he told Harrop. “You are more likely to be in your 40s or 50s.”

And apparently he has no intention of throwing in the towel anytime soon. “I’m pretty sure that I haven’t started my last company,” he said.

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The Power of Persistence

CoverDesignFinalVersionFour years ago, I set out to write a book about people who became successful entrepreneurs in the second halves of their lives. I undertook this challenge for several reasons but at the heart of it all was a personal one. I wanted to know what it takes for an ordinary boomer like me to excel at business ownership.

It took hundreds of hours of research, more than 40 interviews and at least six or seven manuscript rewrites (I lost count after the fifth round) but I finally finished. This month, I self-published Late-Blooming Entrepreneurs: Eight Principles for Starting a Business After Age 40.

The journey renewed my admiration for authors of all stripes, including the ones mentioned in this post by Debra Eve of Later Bloomer. It also taught me that self-publishing is very much an entrepreneurial endeavor.

Like any startup, a professional-quality book requires seed money, third-party resources, marketing, timetables and risk. But to me, it seems like the biggest must-have is persistence.

This is the time when many people think about goals for the New Year. When you set your sights on something big and difficult, you have to find ways to keep trudging along. Here are five suggestions based upon what worked for me:

  1. Make appointments with yourself to work on your initiative. Honor them as you would any other commitment on your calendar.
  2. Celebrate milestones. Give yourself rewards along the way to your destination.
  3. Read books that motive you. Some possibilities: The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg), Think and Grow Rich (Napolean Hill), Drive  (Daniel H. Pink) and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen R. Covey).
  4. Expect setbacks and take them in stride. If you fall down, get up. Brush yourself off – and keep going.
  5. Have a strong support system. Find good mentors. Join online communities with members facing the same types of challenges. Avoid naysayers.

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the U.S., had a wise perspective on going the distance. “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence,” he said. “Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race “

Whether your goal for next year is a new business, a book or some other big challenge, don’t just start it – commit to it. As Coolidge would say, press on.  See it through to the end.

Best wishes for 2014 –


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Entrepreneur Creates a “Surfboard” for the Golf Course

Don Wildman has an invention that he hopes will make golf carts a thing of the past.

The 80-year-old entrepreneur from Malibu, California is the mastermind behind the GolfBoard, an electronic board that golfers (and their clubs) ride to get from one shot to the next. On its website, GolfBoard says the device “speeds up the game, is easy and intuitive for everyone to ride, has less impact on a course than a golf cart, and allows golfers to surf the golf course in a way that feels similar to snowboarding, surfing or skateboarding.”

Wildman has high expectations. “It will do for golfing what snowboarding did for skiing,” he said in this article.

Not everybody is convinced that Wildman’s creation will be golf’s next big thing. Still, the company that makes GolfBoard already has orders for 2,000 of the device, which retail for $3,500 each. Mass production will begin in January.

GolfBoard received funding help from Kickstarter, the crowdfunding website mentioned in this post. Financial backers earned the right to get one of the first boards off the production line.

Wildman, a fitness buff who founded the national health club chain Bally Total Fitness, thinks the GolfBoard could help lure younger people away from video games and onto golf courses. But he wants to cast an even bigger net.

“I think that eventually the majority of people will be playing golf on a GolfBoard,” he predicted boldly.

Here’s a video that shows the GolfBoard in action.

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Father-Son Entrepreneurial Team Helps People with Autism

John D’Eri is a seasoned entrepreneur. His son Tom just graduated from business school. So the two decided to join forces and form a new business with an especially important mission: helping people with autism find employment.

As reported by this Miami Herald article, the D’Eri family opened the first Rising Tide Car Wash in Parkland, Florida last April after researching potential entrepreneurial solutions to help Andrew D’Eri, the younger son of John and his wife, Donna. Andrew, who is autistic, is among the 34 adult employees at the car wash.

Rising Tide’s website explains that the company arose from concern about what would happen to Andrew when his family was no longer around to care for him.

“We believe that Andrew and others like him have difficulty getting a job, not because they don’t have the tools to be top-notch employees, but rather because most businesses are simply not structured in a way that allows them to reach their full potential,” writes the D’Eri family in this piece titled “Why We’re Here.”

Rising Tide Car Wash is the first company created by CanDo Business Ventures, an organization that designs and deploys scalable consumer businesses dedicated to employing people with autism.

The young company has already turned the corner of profitability, according to the Herald article. Looks like John’s experience and Andrew’s business school training provide a winning combination.

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Dancing Their Way to a New Business

Geri Messer and Pat Balderas, both 66, love tap dancing. Two years ago, they took a big plunge.

They bought the Toledo, Ohio-based studio where they took lessons and turned it into Off Broadway Dance Company. “We both had a passion for it, and, since we were retired, we had the time to do it,” says Pat in this “Meet the Owners” story on the company’s website.

Their studio has been growing ever since. Off Broadway Dance Company’s clientele is strictly adults with an age range of 22 to 72. The studio offers classes for beginners through seasoned tap dancers. Many of the students are working women who attend evening and Saturday classes.

Since taking over the studio, the co-owners have made a number of changes to expand opportunities for their students and keep up their own skills. They bring in master teachers and travel to Chicago in August for a weekend of intensive training at a tap workshop. They also stage an annual show and give back to the community by performing in senior centers, assisted living facilities and nursing home facilities.

Off Broadway Dance Company received help from SCORE, a nonprofit that provides free counseling and other assistance for small businesses. As explained here, two volunteer mentors guided Pat and Geri on their future growth plans

The two entrepreneurs are proof that it’s never too late to find or act on a passion. Before she began taking lessons at the studio, Geri, a former nurse, hadn’t danced since she was 19. Pat didn’t start dancing until her 40s.

Just look at them now.

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Seven Extraordinary Stories of New Purpose Later in Life

In 1999, when TV anchorwoman Ysabel Duron learned she had cancer, she turned the camera on herself as she went through treatment. The resulting three-part documentary won an award. But more importantly, it began a new calling for Duron.

Today, the 66-year-old is the CEO of Latinas Contra Cancer, a San Jose, California-based organization she founded in 2003 to educate, support and provide essential services to low-income Spanish speakers suffering from the disease.

This week, named Duron as one of seven recipients of the Purpose Prize, which recognizes people over the age of 60 who are combining their passion and experience for the common good. The honor comes with $100,000 each for two winners and $25,000 each for five winners.

Also among this year’s Purpose Prize winners is 71-year-old Ed Nicholson, a retired Navy Captain. In 2005, when Nicholson was a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, an idea came to him as he observed the many disabled veterans around him. Nicholson founded Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, a Maryland-based organization that helps wounded veterans heal from the physical, mental and emotional toll of war by teaching them about fly fishing.

As founder Marc Freedman explained, this year’s Purpose Prize recipients “come from all walks of life, but hold one thing in common: Each is changing the world in what was once seen as the ‘leftover’ years.”

You can read about all seven Purpose Prize winners here.

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Successful Entrepreneurs Who Had Humble Beginnings

Some of the world’s best known entrepreneurs had surprising and fascinating first jobs, writes Jason Nazar, co-founder and CEO of, in this post for Business Insider.

The list of entrepreneurs with modest first occupations includes at least one late bloomer: Henry Ford, who was around 40 when he launched the Ford Motor Company. At age 15, Ford started repairing watches when he received one from his father as a gift. After the young Ford took apart and reassembled his new time piece, it didn’t take long for him to establish a reputation as the local watch repairman.

Here are a few other famous entrepreneurs and their first jobs:

Warren Buffet: Chewing gum salesman and newspaper boy

Oprah Winfrey: Grocery store clerk

Walt Disney: Ambulance driver

Michael Bloomberg:  Parking lot attendant

Andrew Carnegie: Bobbin boy at a cotton mill

As Nazar points out, “there are many journeys to success, and numerous life stories to prove it.” Some entrepreneurs go to business school. Others follow an unconventional path. Those who don’t start businesses until later in life often fall into the latter category.

And you know what? That’s perfectly okay.

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