No. 388: On Broadway, Barbie’s BFF and best workforce investments (mentoring, also aces for at-risk kids)

Muff piece: Thanks to Chester Greenwood, Farmington, Maine, is proudly known as the “Earmuff Capital of the World.” The then-15-year-old's Champion Ear Protectors were issued a patent on this date in 1877.


Welcome to Wednesday: You’re halfway home, dear reader, as we hurdle the hump of another busy workweek.

It’s March 13 out there, which of course makes it National Elephant Day in Thailand, marking the 1998 addition of the white elephant to that nation’s flag. (Note: Not to be confused with World Elephant Day, held in August.)

Hello, dolly: Today is also Ken Day, celebrating the 1961 debut of Ken Carson – yes, Barbie’s plastic pal has a birthdate, of sorts, and a last name.

HerToo: So does Barbie, aka Barbara Millicent Roberts.

Comes and goes: Verified observations of Halley’s Comet were recorded on this date in 607 AD and 1759 (also AD).

Last seen in these parts in February 1986, Cosmic Old Reliable should be back again around March 2061.

That’s no black hole: In other stellar news, astronomer William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus on March 13, 1781.

And starman Clyde Tombaugh of Arizona’s Lowell Observatory announced the discovery of Pluto on this date in 1930. He actually spotted the dwarf planet in February, decades after Massachusetts astronomer Percival Lowell (more on him below) mathematically calculated Pluto’s existence.

He wants you: The cartoon version of Uncle Sam, soon to become one of the most recognizable U.S. symbols, debuted on March 13, 1852, in The New York Lantern, a weekly newsletter.

Spanning the lobe: Tired of freezing his lugs during those long Maine winters, big-eared teenager Chester Greenwood earned a U.S. patent on this date in 1877 for the first-ever earmuffs.

Other U.S. patents dated March 13 include one issued a year ago today for Alabama innovator Larry Putnam, who invented an improved sock-donning aid for the physically challenged.

A belated birthday wish (to “An Irish Blessing”): May the networks rise up to meet you, may the dark web see the light, may sharing include more respect and less divisiveness, and while we work to realize your full potential, may the next 30 years be your best, World Wide Web, which turned 30 Tuesday.

Actual flesh-and-blood March 13 birthdays include the aforementioned “Percy” Lowell (1855-1916), who predicted Pluto; Holland Tunnel chief engineer and namesake Clifford Holland (1883-1924); U.S. Army officer and balloonist Albert Stevens (1886-1949), who took the first photograph of the Earth’s curvature; iconic American journalist Janet Flanner (1892-1978), who spent 50 years as New Yorker Magazine’s Paris correspondent; and the “Poet Laureate of Young Children,” children’s author Dorothy Aldis (1896-1966).

Dimons are forever: And take a bow, Jamie Dimon – the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the largest of the “Big Four” American banks, turns 63 today.

Wish them all a happy birthday at We’ll take the presents – story tips, calendar suggestions, please and thank you.

Gentle reminder: The 2019 Innovator of the Year Awards is now less than two weeks away!

Join us March 26 at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury as we salute 2019 Master of Innovation Mitch Maiman, president of Hauppauge-based Intelligent Product Solutions, and two dozen of Long Island’s most innovative inventors, researchers and entrepreneurs. Our amazing list of 2019 awardees is right here; still time to grab a seat (or a sponsorship).


A few words from our sponsor: Whether it’s helping in site selection, cutting through red tape or finding innovative ways to meet specific needs, businesses that settle in the Town of Islip soon learn that we take a proactive approach to seeing them succeed. If your business wants to locate or expand in a stable community with great quality of life, then it’s time you took a closer look at Islip.



The neon lights are bright: The curtain is rising on a first-ever business-incubation program designed to promote success in the live-entertainment industry – where else, but on the Great White Way.

The Shubert Organization, which owns and operates 17 Broadway theaters and six off-Broadway venues, is teaming up with technical-training solutions provider IT Mentor and Exponential Creativity Ventures – a tech-startup venture fund focused on human creativity – to present the Broadway Tech Accelerator, designed to help emerging entrepreneurs thrive in the challenging world of stagecraft.

Combining the Shubert Organization’s particular savvy with the capital-investment and tech-training skills of its incubator partners creates several unique opportunities for startups looking to become marquee names, particularly backstage. Hopefuls can begin filing applications April 1; the incubator’s first cohort is scheduled to launch in May. More here.

Artificial flavor: NYIT has announced an amazing slate of speakers for Artificial Intelligence: Fueling the Next Wave of Innovation, a May 8 seminar diving deep into cutting-edge AI.

Scheduled to join a discipline-crossing selection of NYIT professors – plus Michael Nizich, director of NYIT’s Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation – is a slate of high-profile panelists including EGC Group President Nicole Larrauri, Brookhaven National Laboratory Computational Science Initiative Director Kersten Kleese van Dam, American Cybersecurity Institute co-Executive Director Benjamin Dynkin and Amazon AI Segment Leader Kris Skrinak, among others.

Keynoted by IBM Cognitive Process Transformation GM Jay Bellissimo, the day-long conference will cover current and coming-soon AI developments, including the implementation of advanced AI tech in customer-engagement, banking, HR, health, marketing, education and cybersecurity systems. Admission is free, pre-registration is required.



Learn from the best: Statewide nonprofit Mentor New York marks its 15th Long Island conference this week, exposing at-risk schoolkids to college life.

Applied pressure: Regional lawmakers, educators and labor leaders want Albany to invest $53 million in Farmingdale State’s new Applied Sciences building.

Levity necessity: James Powell, one half of a famed Long Island duo that invented magnetic-levitation technology, says America’s transportation future floats on thin air.



Workforce development insider Rosalie Drago shows how good things happen when industry partners with academia to initiate future employment pipelines, starting in today’s high schools.



For entrepreneurs: If all you needed was passion, everyone would be a big-time business success. You need more. Startup Nation explains.

Also for entrepreneurs: Before you quit your day job, Forbes suggests you ask yourself these critical self-employment questions.

For entrepreneurs, and everyone else: The World Economic Forum proudly presents “pyt,” an (untranslatable) Danish concept that could de-stress the world.



+ Fairygodboss, a New York City-based career community for women answering hard-to-ask questions on pay, corporate culture, benefits and work flexibility, raised $10 million in Series A funding led by GSV Accelerate and Signal Peak Ventures.

+ Embody Inc., a Virginia-based developer of a collagen-based microfiber implant for Achilles tendon and rotator-cuff repairs, raised $3.6 million in funding led by Genesis Innovation Group’s cultivate(MD) Capital Fund II.

+ NextHealth Technologies, a Colorado-based, AI-powered healthcare analytics platform, completed a $17 million Series B funding round led by TT Capital Partners, with participation from Blue Cross of Idaho and existing investors including Norwest Venture Partners.

+ Beam Therapeutics, a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company developing precision genetic medicines, completed a $135 million Series B financing round. Backers included Redmile Group, Cormorant Asset Management, GV and Altitude Life Science Ventures, along with existing investors F-Prime Capital, ARCH Venture Partners, Eight Roads Ventures and Omega Funds.

+ Jupiter, a provider of predictive data and analytics for climate risk, raised $23 million in Series B financing led by Energize Ventures, with participation from Mitsui MS&AD, QBE, Nephila, SYSTEMIQ and previous investors Data Collective and Ignition Partners.

+ Alto, a Tennessee-based technology platform for investors to add alternative assets to their IRAs, raised $2.8 million in seed funding. Backers included NerdWallet co-founder Jake Gibson, Foundation Capital, Sequoia’s Scout Fund, Amplify.LA, First Check Fund and Green D Funds.



Bird brain: Ornithologist Elizabeth Hargrave turned her passion into a board game with scientific integrity – and it’s taking off, according to The New York Times.

Cow song: Atlas Obscura tunes into the spellbinding Swedish tune that’s called cows home for centuries.

Eagle eye: Please continue supporting the great organizations that support Innovate LI, including the Town of Islip’s economic-development offices, which keep a sharp focus on the region’s evolving business needs.