Photos from RightOnline 2011

By Katie Kieffer  
Katie Kieffer speaking at RightOnline 2011. Image copyright Katie Kieffer.

Katie Kieffer speaking at RightOnline 2011. Image copyright Katie Kieffer.

On Friday, June 17th, I spoke at the national RightOnline conference sponsored by Americans for Prosperity. This year, my home-state hosted the conference at the Hilton Minneapolis. I spoke on the challenges to high tech free speech, with a special focus on net neutrality, and offered the audience six action steps to overcome these challenges. I’ll share photo highlights from the event:
Mitch Berg at RightOnline 2011. Image copyright Katie Kieffer.

Mitch Berg at RightOnline 2011. Image copyright Katie Kieffer.

My friend, blogger and talk radio host Mitch Berg presented on the history of the Fairness Doctrine and historical challenges to high-tech free speech before I spoke on net neutrality. You can tune into Mitch Berg and Ed Morrissey’s show Saturday morning’s on AM 1280 The Patriot.
Katie Kieffer on the Dr. Gina Loudon Show at RightOnline 2011.

Katie Kieffer on the Dr. Gina Loudon Show at RightOnline 2011. Image copyright Katie Kieffer.

I went on the Dr. Gina Loudon Radio Show and talked with Dr. Gina about why entrepreneurship can be a fulfilling and profitable alternative to purposelessly racking up college debt.
Katie Kieffer and John Hawkins.

Katie Kieffer and John Hawkins at RightOnline 2011. Image credit: John Hawkins of RightWingNews.

I caught up with some of my fellow professional bloggers and Townhall columnists like John Hawkins of RightWingNews. You can also find Hawkins’ opinion and humor on Twitter.
The Kieffer Sisters - RightOnline 2011. Image copyright Katie Kieffer.

The Kieffer Sisters – RightOnline 2011. Image copyright Katie Kieffer.

My dearest cheerleaders will always be my sisters, Maggie (L) and Amie (R). Watch for Amie’s cartoons from time-to-time on this website under “Humor.”
RightOnline 2011 ballroom design by EideCom Media. Image copyright Katie Kieffer.

RightOnline 2011 ballroom design by EideCom Media.

RightOnline 2011′s ballroom was designed by my filming partners, Charles Eide and Mike Danielson of EideCom Media. I’m looking forward to RightOnline 2012! If you would like to book Katie Kieffer to speak at your professional event or college campus, please follow this link to inquire about booking a speech.


Pure awesome All-American fun

By Katie Kieffer
Minnie and Mickey Mouse

Image credit: “Dream Along With Mickey and Minnie” by Samantha Decker on Flickr via Creative Commons.

        Apple pie. Baseball. And Disneyland? I never thought of visiting Disneyland as “All-American” recreation on par with watching a baseball game—beer in one hand, hot dog in the other. But, last week, I vacationed in California. Before I left, my friend insisted, “You have to go to Disneyland. It’s practically un-American not to go.” The first time I visited Disneyland I was an awestruck little girl on a mission to find Minnie Mouse, while eating a lollipop the size of my head. When I walked through the gates on my second visit, the man who took my ticket said: “Welcome to pure awesome. Your life is about to change forever.” I laughed, but, this time, I saw Disneyland with the eyes of an entrepreneur. As I watched children squeal in delight while their parents reveled in the opportunity to fulfill their own childhood fantasies, I realized that my friend was right: Not because it would be “un-American” not to go to Disneyland, but because it would be un-American for an entrepreneurial success like Disneyland not to exist in America. Nearly every American 6-year-old knows who Mickey and Minnie are or has seen Disney films. Walt Disney is an American icon. He embedded his business into American culture and grew his innovative dream into a worldwide entertainment empire with 450 Disney getaway destinations. Disneyland’s success represents an All-American culture that says anything is possible if you work hard, dream big and satisfy market needs. Disneyland is not an electric car. California’s world-renown theme park did not rise to success because the government recommended it to us. Disneyland satisfies a real market. Like many successful entrepreneurs, Disney took his interests, like operating toy trains and entertaining children, and, found a remunerative niche. On July 17, 1955, in the presence of Ronald Reagan and others, Disney unveiled his first theme park in Anaheim, California: Disneyland. Disneyland was the first of its kind and families ate up Disney’s entertainment. However, when other theme parks cropped up across the country and technology changed, Disney did not rest on his laurels. He created competitive value for the marketplace that allowed him to stay relevant and expand his company globally. MSNBC reports that Disneyland started out as “wildly innovative” and that The Walt Disney Company has led the way in developing new ride technologies over the years. For example, on my visit, I utilized Disney’s FASTPASS service to bypass a two-hour wait for the all-new Star Wars “Star Tours” digital 3-D ride.
Star Wars "Star Tours" ride at Disneyland

Image credit: “Star Tours” by starstreak007 on Flickr via Creative Commons.

Successful entrepreneurs do not take their customers for granted. They don’t assume that the government will usher new clients in the door. Rather, they build long-term relationships with their clients to keep them coming back. The park is meticulous and employees enforce park rules with consistent kindness. When the guy ahead of me tried to smuggle a soda into the park, the gate operator kindly asked if he’d like a cup to drink his soda with before entering. Every employee we met—from the man sweeping the streets who offered to help me find a ride, to the woman who cheerfully added fudge to my sundae after I pointed out it was missing—seemed genuinely happy. The government’s TSA staff that barked at me like they owned my body when I opted out of the scanner could learn from Disney. Running any business, including a theme park full of fun and games, is risky. A ride could tragically malfunction. A child could choke on a Mickey-shaped cookie. Over-protective parents could whine about the Jungle Cruise gorilla shooting a toy gun. America should encourage young people who are willing to take risks and start businesses that satisfy real market demands as opposed to artificial “needs” fabricated by the government. Otherwise, recent grads may feel obligated to work for the government in exchange for “job security.” If our government excessively taxes and regulates businesses, we will lose entrepreneurs who would otherwise develop a “Disney”-size idea to end bed bugs or cure cancer. You don’t need to go to the world of fantasy to make your dreams come true in a free market; you create your own magic by innovating and creating jobs because the rewards outweigh the risks. We should also uphold successful American entrepreneurs like Walt Disney rather than envying their success and accusing them of greed. Their entrepreneurial success has a ripple effect that helps other start-ups. For example, Disney licenses its brand—giving clothing, jewelry and toy manufacturers the ability to profit off its animated characters like Tinker Bell and its Disney Channel stars like the Jonas Brothers. Essentially, other companies can ride to greater success on the coattails of Disney’s achievement. As you vacation this summer, observe what lies beneath countless amusements that you’ll enjoy: All-American entrepreneurship, capitalism, perseverance and passion.
Sleeping Beauty Castle - Disneyland Paris

Image credit: “Sleeping Beauty Castle” at Disneyland Paris by disneyandy on Flickr via Creative Commons.

If you enjoyed this post and you would like to book Katie Kieffer to speak in person at your professional event or college campus, please follow this link to inquire about booking a speech.


Entrepreneurship helps animals

By Katie Kieffer

Image credit: “Koala in eucalyptus tree” by Peter Nijenhuis on Flickr via Creative Commons.

  I’m going out on a limb with the koalas to say that entrepreneurs are better caretakers of animals and endangered species than politicians who call themselves environmentalists. Last month, the journal Nature published a study showing that mathematical models for determining species extinction are unreliable and may be leading us to overestimate extinction probabilities by up to 160 percent. The study’s authors encourage the scientific community to not become complacent, but, rather, adopt better mathematical models for forecasting extinction rates. Despite this research, environmentalists are pushing forward radical measures that could hurt animals and humans in one fell swoop. Contrastingly, entrepreneurs are advancing proposals that could preserve animals while creating jobs for humans. Let’s walk through three different scenarios and you can decide who is doing a better job of protecting your furry and scaly friends:


Politicians in Australia are targeting these humped, Fergalicious creatures because they fart too much. Yes, you read that right, the Ausi government is scrambling to meet its Kyoto Treaty quotas and is looking for ways to eliminate sources of green-house gases.
Wile Camel, Australia

Image credit: “Wild Camel” in Australia by konradowy on Flickr via Creative Commons.

According to The Washington Times, four camels produce as much annual methane as a Toyota Prius and Australian elites have decided to throw animals under the bus in order to fend off climate change. Proposed legislation would allow companies to earn carbon credits through initiatives like setting fires to brush (camel habitat) and “animal emissions avoidance projects such as camel reduction.” Wanton destruction of nature to rack up carbon credits on a sheet of paper is wrong. When a set of animals—like camels—grows out of control or becomes a nuisance, entrepreneurs “respect” the animals by finding ways to feed and employ humans. Entrepreneurs point out that camels have historically helped support and nourish poorer regions of the world. Camel milk is a popular, high-protein, low-fat and nutrient-rich beverage. Increasingly, Europeans and Americans are clamoring for access to this healthy alternative to cow’s milk. Ancient Greeks nourished themselves on lean camel meat and it is a staple in middle-eastern and African diets today. Rather than meaninglessly shooting farting camels, Ausi entrepreneur Paddy McHugh is pushing the government to consider another option that will respect and save camels while employing Australians. He told Arabian Business: “We want to turn it around from a negative and produce an industry for Australia to export meat and milk to the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. It’s got huge potential. …The Aboriginal people in Australia are quite destitute, and we believe it’s a great industry to embrace and harvest these feral animals.”


Once part of an international embargo and listed as endangered, this Bambi-like animal is slowly but surely recovering under the watchful eye of Italian fashion mogul Loro Piana, reports Time Magazine. Piana runs a 4,900-acre preservation site where vicuñas roam free and conservationists study their habits.

Image credit: “Vicuña” by moonbird on Flickr via Creative Commons.

Piana and other entrepreneurs are slowly growing this fragile population and also weaving its rare fur into ultra-warm and super-soft clothing. The vicuña is only sheared once every two years and ultimately benefits from this manufacturing process. Time says that under Piana’s lead, the vicuña population in the Peruvian Andes has soared to 200,000.   The vicuña success story shows us how entrepreneurs like Piana find ways to grow animal populations out of endangerment while producing sought-after products and creating jobs.  

Lizards and prairie chickens

Environmentalists are pressuring the Fish and Wildlife Service to rush the 3-in. dunes sagebrush lizard and the lesser prairie chicken inhabiting southeastern New Mexico and west Texas onto the endangered species list. Environmentalists claim that the oil industry in west Texas is destroying these critters despite that there is no definitive scientific data showing that oil production harms the lizards and prairie chickens. Caribou herds, for instance, have been found to grow and thrive alongside oil production in Alaska’s North Slope.
Sagebrush lizard

Image credit: “Northern Sagebrush Lizard” by Ashrunner's Photo Safaris on Flickr via Creative Commons.

Prematurely protecting the dunes sagebrush lizard and the lesser prairie chicken would immediately threaten the jobs of 75 percent of west Texans who rely on the oil industry for their survival, reports Fox News. The Fish & Wildlife Service will make its determination by December. The Board of Regents of the University of Texas System and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) are putting forward entrepreneurial proposals to set aside nearly 75,000 acres managed by the University of Texas for their habitat and to further study these creatures rather than impulsively sabotaging the American oil industry.   Bottom line, there is a market for camel products, vicuna hair and petroleum. Entrepreneurs find ways to satisfy market demands and create jobs while respecting, studying and benefiting the animals that produce these products or inhabit the areas where they are manufactured. In comparison, radical environmentalists often seek ways to advance their anti-business agendas – regardless of whether animals die meaninglessly or humans go hungry and jobless. If you enjoyed this post and you would like to book Katie Kieffer to speak in person at your professional event or college campus, please follow this link to inquire about booking a speech.


Fear not, buy an iPad

By Katie Kieffer

Image credit: “iPad with Dandilion” by JaredEarle on Flickr via Creative Commons.

    If Steve Jobs’ name were Lindsay Lohan and he were looking for work starring as the wife of John Gotti Jr. in a mobster film, confrontation with the law would be the best thing that ever happened to Apple. We all know Lohan can serve jail time and then spend weeks defending herself in court on new charges only to walk away flashing an ankle monitoring bracelet above her five-inch heels and … drum roll … land an acting gig next to John Travolta. For LiLo, fighting the law appears to be a remunerative gold star on her resume. For tech companies like Apple, not so much. On June 3, 2011 a University of Southern California study revealed that almost 50 percent of Americans who connect to the internet worry that “big business” is spying on them. Only 38 percent worry about the government spying on them. Anti-business government officials are frightening consumers with ridiculous privacy claims against high-tech companies that specialize in apps, off-site storage and social networking. Time Magazine reports: “FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz has been pleased by how effective he’s been at using the threat of legislation to scare companies into taking action…”
Jon Leibowitz

Image credit: “FTC Jon Leibowitz” by icki on Flickr via Creative Commons.

Consequently, American tech firms are spending more time lobbying and fighting legal battles and less time innovating, creating jobs and generating profits for shareholders. Do you read the morning news on a laptop as you spoon Cap’n Crunch into your mouth? Do you send emails from a BlackBerry, iPhone or Android? Do you run an online business? If so, read my five examples of tech companies scrambling to defend their business models and reputations from government attacks. Then, you can decide for yourself whether big government is more trustworthy than big business.

1.) Google relies primarily on ad revenue to support the plethora of free services it provides consumers. Google reported lower first quarter net income due to designating $500 million to cover legal fees for a settlement it anticipates with the Justice Department over the legality of “certain advertisers” on Google.

2.) You may think Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is quirky with his “personal challenge” diet to only eat the meat he kills. But, you can’t deny that Zuckerberg is a job creator.

For over a year, Sen. Al Franken, Rep. Chuck Schumer and other liberal politicians have been attacking Facebook’s privacy policies and trying to control Facebook. Facebook spent $230,000 lobbying in Q1 alone and just hired two more lobbyists.

If consumers are smart enough to cultivate their FarmVille plantations multiple times a day, aren’t they capable of managing their Facebook privacy settings? Should the government protect Americans from foreign enemies or hold their hands as they upload photos to Facebook? What is Facebook’s incentive to do business in the U.S. if it spends its resources fighting anti-business micromanagers in Washington instead of innovating and creating profits for shareholders?

3.) Sen. Franken’s privacy subcommittee is pushing Apple and Google to defend, explain and revise their privacy practices. So, instead of innovating, Apple and Google are tied up in Congressional hearings explaining to tech-illiterate politicians that their devices request user permission before sharing location information with third-party applications.

4.) The U.S. Department of Labor is using business to spy on business – launching its own smartphone applications so that employees can “catch” their employers cheating them out of hours.Why is it OK for the government to slander Apple’s technology and then turn around and use Apple’s technology to pit employees against employers – setting the stage for lawsuits and fostering animosity toward business?

5.) In April, the FCC bypassed Congress and introduced “data roaming rules” that will cut into the profit and innovation potential of firms like Verizon and AT&T. Verizon is suing the FCC.

Meanwhile, the FCC is stalling formal publication of the anti-business net neutrality regulations it approved in December of 2010. The FCC knows that delaying posting the rules to the Federal Register pressures federal appeals courts to temporarily dismiss lawsuits from broadband heavyweights like Verizon.

The FCC is pigeonholing businesses, forcing them to either accept rules that will hurt their long-term growth or rack up ridiculous legal fees challenging and re-challenging these rules.

Think twice before you believe the government’s anti-business privacy sermons. Bizo CEO Russell Glass tells Time Magazine: “It’s the monster-under-the-bed syndrome. People are afraid of what they really don’t understand. They don’t understand that companies like us have no idea who they are. And we really don’t give a s — -. I just want a little information that will help me sell you an ad.” Consider buying that iPad you’ve been admiring. Fearing new technology will ultimately derail your success and happiness. Let Sen. Franken take a time machine back to the Stone Age, but you don’t need to join him.
iPad on desk

Image credit: “ipad” by mbeo on Flickr via Creative Commons.

If you enjoyed this post and you would like to book Katie Kieffer to speak in person at your professional event or college campus, please follow this link to inquire about booking a speech.


Gossip Cheats Men & Capitalism

By Katie Kieffer
"News" signage

Image credit: “Generic Sign – News” by Kevin H. on Flickr via Creative Commons.

Lately, the media has been whetting the public’s appetite for gossip, handing out cupcake stories like Weinergate, Arnold’s affair, John Edwards’ criminal infidelity and reports of Tiger Woods’ marital affairs still affecting his golf game. Reporting scandal may be justifiable if public figures are criminals in addition to sinners. But, shouldn’t “objective journalism” have some standards for reporting gossip?  Extreme coverage of high-profile male cheaters misclassifies all men as deviants and mischaracterizes capitalism – which rewards innovation with money and power – as immoral. Certainly, politicians and athletes are not “capitalists” or “innovators” on par with job-creators like Sam Zell, Steve Jobs and Ralph Lauren. However, journalists who do not understand capitalism automatically lump wealthy businessmen into the same category as political pervs and jocks on the prowl. When journalists über-focus on stories of infidelity by high-power, wealthy males it tells the world that men are more prone to infidelity than women and capitalism turns men into sexual pigs faster than Michael Moore can stuff pigs-in-blankets down his throat. Pop music reveals truths that the media refuses to admit: Some men may be proud players but the halos on their ladies’ heads are shams. “And, Rowl! These women all on the prowl…we want a lady in the street but a freak in the bed!” Usher and Ludacris belt out in “Yeah!” Meanwhile, New Boyz rap, “Oh, you a good girl? It’s cool, I play pretend too! in their hit single, “Backseat.”
"Lady" signage

Image credit: “Generic Sign Project – Lady” by Kevin H. on Flickr via Creative Commons.

These lyrics speak to reality. It takes two to tango in the backseat of a Camaro and most promiscuous, high-profile men do not victimize good girls. Tiger Woods was not sexting Little Miss Innocent & Co., unless you consider Joslyn James guiltless. Bottom line, both sexes are at fault and capitalism is not the only source of power. Entrepreneurs who attain success through innovation and hard work have power. So do politicians who grovel or bribe their way to the top. Mainstream journalists typically let the women involved in affairs off the hook entirely or turn them into icons like Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. The media often excuses female cheaters as innocent victims trying to support themselves while portraying men as domineering pigs. However, the latest research from the Association for Psychological Science shows that narcissistic confidence and power are the two traits linked to cheating and that men are no more likely to cheat than women. One former escort, Veronica Monet, tells CNBC, “…One of the confusions for people is a man is paying for sex because he wants to tell the prostitute what to do, he wants to have power over her … and I’ve found that none of these things were true. It’s not about telling the prostitute what to do. It’s about giving up control and letting her take over…” Contrary to the feminist claim that a glass ceiling and male dominance force low-income women into demeaning careers like high-end prostitution, research from the University of Arkansas shows that well-educated and affluent women are opting out of traditional marriage and the legal workforce and choosing high-end prostitution. When a high-end prostitute accepts $20,000 cash from a married man she lures in via her professional website for a long weekend of “therapeutic one-on-one attention and hot, hot sex,” she is just as self-centered as her client. Narcissism, not confidence, drives a well-educated, affluent woman to destroy another woman’s marriage overnight. The media’s incessant portrayal of rich and powerful men as victimizers weakens the institution of marriage and tells young women that it doesn’t matter if you’re a loyal beauty like Elin Nordegren or Maria Shriver, you are going to get played. So, you may as well play the field too. Media gossip tells young women: “Forget God. Forget fidelity. Forget reconciliation. Love is a lie.”
"Love" signage.

Image credit: “Generic Sighn Project – Love.” by Kevin H. on Flickr via Creative Commons.

The mainstream media should embrace a higher journalistic standard and give positive celebrity marital stories more than 15 seconds of coverage: Stories like Seal and Heidi Klum renewing their vows six times or Phil Mickelson standing by his first and only wife during her battle with cancer instead of rushing into an Edwardesque fling or firing off sexts à la Woods to porn stars. I challenge the media to acknowledge that women are just as prone to infidelity as men and that capitalism does not cause immorality. Capitalism allows for the free range of human action; we can choose to be greedy or generous. Ultimately, in a capitalistic society, it is up to us to choose how we will live. If the media embraced higher standards and acknowledged reality, we could waste less time worrying about whether outliers like recently-married Rep. Weiner tweeted a picture of his junk to a Seattle woman and more time learning about inspirational entrepreneurs like David Frauenshuh, Kenneth Cole and David Green who have been faithful to their wives while creating jobs. If you enjoyed this post and you would like to book Katie Kieffer to speak in person at your professional event or college campus, please follow this link to inquire about booking a speech.


Why college is not for everyone

By Katie Kieffer

Peter Thiel. Image credit: “TEDx Silicon Valley – Peter Thiel presentation” by Suzie Katz on Flickr via Creative Commons.

Peter Thiel is rocking the boat of higher education. The libertarian entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and co-founder of PayPal is sending liberal college administrators into a tizzy with his latest push to encourage young innovators to ditch college for two years and pursue entrepreneurship. Last week, Thiel awarded 20 young people with “20 Under 20” Thiel Fellowships: $100,000 and two years of mentorship to develop entrepreneurial ventures in science and technology. Thiel’s dismisses conventional wisdom, which says that college is the necessary next-step for success after high school. He understands that conventional wisdom is conventional ignorance now that the American university system is broken. Today’s students pay bloated prices so universities can hire fleets of non-academic staff to monitor student speech codes, distribute cookies in campus lounges and court elites like Bill Clinton to speak on-campus and warn young people never to believe: “There is no such thing as a good tax…” Tuition is rising and debt loads are mounting while students at institutions as prestigious as Stanford’s Graduate School of Business are failing to learn basic skills. When Stanford graduate students rely on private coaches outside the classroom to teach them how to write for business, you know higher education is deteriorating. I took a hybrid route for my own higher education. I went to college and started an entrepreneurial venture at the same time. My path was unique and challenging, so I understand first-hand that Thiel is offering young entrepreneurs the opportunity of a lifetime.
College graduates

Image credit: “College Graduates” by dsb nola on Flickr via Creative Commons.

In college, your liberal arts professors may provide you with tips on how to outline your thoughts, but they generally expect that you already know how to give a 10-minute presentation or write a 15-page paper. Meanwhile, your business professors do not teach you how to run a business. Rather, they lecture you on business models, assign you to read case studies and tell you to look for an internship. Looking back, I realize that I really did not need college. I think many young people do not need college to become successful. The real world lessons I took away from my college experience came from running a conservative student newspaper on a shoestring budget out of my dorm room and from the experience I gained during my internship in commercial real estate. Today, historic numbers of high-school graduates are going to college. More than ever, parents are pouring their hard-earned savings into college educations for their children. Venture capitalist, author and parent James Altucher argues that it is irrational for parents to blindly pay for their child’s higher education. New York Magazine reports Altucher as saying: “What am I going to do? When [my daughters are] 18 years old, just hand them $200,000 to go off and have a fun time for four years? Why would I want to do that? … The cost of college in the past 30 years has gone up tenfold. Health care has only gone up sixfold, and inflation has only gone up threefold. Not only is it a scam, but the college presidents know it. That’s why they keep raising tuition.” It is not cruel and unusual punishment to expect an 18-year-old to finance his or her own higher education. In fact, forcing them to do so could help them decide whether they even need college. My parents told me, “You’re on your own for college.” So, I chose to be a college student and an entrepreneur simultaneously because I had a boatload of self-motivation, I was blessed with an academic scholarship that allowed me to graduate debt-free, and, because I had developed a growing network of accomplished mentors who generously coached me along the way. Parents, before you feel tempted to write out that six-figure tuition check, consider doing yourselves and your child a favor by honestly assessing the skills that your child demonstrates. If your child thrives within structure or if they want to pursue law or medicine, then college is likely the right path. However, if your child thrives in a creative environment, is self-driven and is constantly innovating, you should consider offering them your own version of Thiel’s 20 Under 20 fellowship as an alternative to subsidizing their college tuition. Thiel contends that many parents shy away from even thinking about a nontraditional path for their children because they view college as an insurance policy. “I think that’s the way probably a lot of parents think about it. It’s a way for their kids to be safe … an insurance policy against falling out of the middle class. …Why are we spending ten times as much for insurance as we were 30 years ago?” That’s a good question. More high-school students and their parents should consider whether there is an entrepreneurial, Thiel-style alternative to success before they impulsively jump into college debt. If you enjoyed this post and you would like to book Katie Kieffer to speak in person at your professional event or college campus, please follow this link to inquire about booking a speech.

Image credit: “self-fulfilling fulfilling prophecy” by Will Lion on Flickr via Creative Commons.