Briarpatch Consulting Team
Helping Make a Better World, One Business at a Time
Team Organizer and Leader
From its inception in 1974, the Briarpatch Network grew rapidly, peaking in the late 1970s at about 600 members. Even in the 80s, we drew regular media attention because of Seven Laws of Money, The Briarpatch Book, and Honest Business.
As the founder of the Network, it wasn’t just that Michael got a lot of people interested. He also followed through by developing the elements of a tribe–those things that move it from a collection of people with common interests into a real community.
One important part of that was to collect observations and stories about business strategies and tactics that were working and pass them back to all the members.
To create this self-perpetuating feedback system Michael hand-picked and mentored a small number of men and women who seemed both motivated and drawn to the work of weekly-Wednesday-consultations-for-dues-paying-members. Many of his recruits were also encouraged to offer courses and workshops, put on larger public events, and plan and host parties.
Team members and Guests
Andy (Bahauddin) Alpine
Bahauddin’s credentials included a B.A. in Economics, an M.A. in International Affairs and Chinese Politics, and a doctorate in Law. He had also served as an assistant with the United Nations Secretariat, researching riparian laws and economics. As the first Network coordinator, he was also the first person to help Michael give guidance to the young entrepreneurs dropping by the Pier 40 office for business advice.
Charles Albert (Shali) Parsons (R.I.P.)
Shali had a masters in social work and a background in counseling and career counseling. He was renowned for holding office hours at a park bench and giving right livelihood guidance to those who dropped by. As Andy’s helper and the second Network coordinator, he too helped Michael on the weekly visits to member businesses.
Claude Whitmyer had been a serial entrepreneur. By the time he was recruited to join the Consulting Team and become the third coordinator, he had run five different businesses of his own. Since joining the Team, Claude’s primary businesses have been a consulting firm specializing in small-business computerization, and a management consultancy specializing in right livelihood business strategies.
Michael and Shali encouraged him to volunteer, first to set up an email and social network server at Glide Foundation (where Michael was Business Manager) for use by Briarpatch and Common Good School. Later he served on the consulting team and shortly after that became the third Network coordinator.
Paul Terry too had been a serial entrepreneur. You may remember his Cheshire Cheese store on Fillmore in San Francisco.
Paul parlayed his entrepreneurial experience and his experience with Briarpatch into a thriving small business consultancy.
When it comes to Briarpatch, Terry was also a stalwart, if informal, consulting partner with Claude Whitmyer. Together they formed the core of the Briarpatch Consulting Team from 1984 to 1994. Other volunteers gave as much time as they could, but Paul attended virtually every session.
Early on he also became principal consultant and instructor at the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center where he is still active.
For his work at Renaissance, Paul has won many awards, including the prestigious Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year award for 1995 (co-sponsored by Inc. Magazine, The Kauffman Foundation, Ernst & Young, and Merrill Lynch).
Other such awards have included:
- Business Instructor of the Year – San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, 1991
- Financial Services Advocate Award – Small Business Administration (San Francisco), 1994
- Community Advocate Award – Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, 2006
- Outstanding Service Award – Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, 2012
- Small Business Advocate Award – San Francisco Small Business Network, 2013
Roger was a consistent participant in weekly consulting sessions during Shali’s tenure as coordinator. He was second only to Paul Terry in his support of consulting team efforts from 1984 to 1994. As his right-livelihood-based financial advising practice grew in the early 90s he needed to turn more of his attention to that.
Roger was the founding coordinator of the East Bay Briarpatch. See more about him on the Briarpatch Coordinators page.
Other Guests and Team Members
- Arnie Kotler
- Charmian Anderson
- Chris Mays
- Elissa Brown
- Joani Blank
- Joyce Boyd
- Michael Stein
- Sara Alexander
- Victoria Maki