Alaska Native Corporations: Dividends do not define Success

During campaign season at Alaska Native Corporations you hear the slogan of “more dividends” in many board candidates’ speeches. Candidates promise “more dividends” and “larger dividends” when they talk to shareholders because many Alaska Native shareholders believe that the purpose of a Native corporation is to benefit its shareholders financially.

For these candidates and shareholders, large dividends are the definition of success. To them, a large dividend means the company is doing well and is fulfilling its purpose.

Likewise, no dividend or a small dividend means the corporation is struggling and is failing.

Their definition doesn’t tell the real story. Financial benefits are important, but providing them does not show a Native corporation has succeeded.

Actually, dividends are a poor measure of success. They can conflict with our values and, in some cases, can even hurt our future.

Providing dividends is not the purpose of a Native corporation.

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THE NATIVE ENTERPRISE: Business Backwards

Every Alaska Native corporation (ANC) and many Tribal businesses started a company without having a business.

Businesses are usually created because a product or service provides value and attracts paying customers.   Behind the product/service is an extremely talented individual or group which brings the product/service into existence.  Regardless of available talent, Native enterprises first created a business then searched for a product or service.  This is business development in reverse.

I currently serve on two Native enterprise boards, one is an Alaska Native village corporation board and the other is a Tribal enterprise board.  There are major differences between the two business entities with the major one being land ownership.  The ANC has land and the Alaska Tribal business does not.  However, both entities seek to start and grow new businesses for the benefit of their tribal members and shareholders.  Many village ANCs and Tribal businesses attempt this with little to no capital.

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Bridge collapse highlights crumbling infrastructure

I-5 Bridge Collapse

Yesterday, an entire span of I-5 collapsed into the river below. This interstate runs the entire length of the country from Canada to Mexico. Thankfully, there was no major injuries or fatalities.

When I worked as a cameraman in NYC, I covered many stories about our crumbling cities. Off camera, I asked the city planner what the plan was for replacing aging bridges. He told me that they replace them only after they fail – that nobody wants to spend the money to replace a bridge that might last a little longer.

In the “Deadliest Catch” story I posted earlier, I write about how we’re not all cut out to be programmers or knowledge workers spending our days behind computer screens. In fact, we need folks in our trades! Our bridges and the country’s infrastructure needs to be rebuilt and we need good people in those jobs.

Why is Deadliest Catch so Popular?

FV Cornelia Marie on Deadliest Catch

This blog is in response to a recent article in the New York Times entitled, “A Soap Opera on the High Seas”. The article was mostly about Thom Beers, the creator of Deadliest Catch but it also attempts to explain why “Deadliest Catch” is so popular.

(referring to Thom Beers) “He turned crab fishing into one of the best soap operas ever,” W. Clark Bunting, the former president of Discovery, says.

For years I have been reading this line, that “Deadliest Catch is a soap opera for men”. I think that’s condescending. At the very least, it’s lazy journalism. “Deadliest Catch” has been on cable now for eight years so we have had a few serious journalists write about the show. Often, the premise of their articles is based around the question, “Why is a television show about crab fishing so popular?”. The final conclusion, as if they are discovering an original thought, is that it’s like a “soap opera”.

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