This upcoming weekend 100 leaders from this region are heading out for our annual Intercity Leadership Visit. This year we’re heading to Philadelphia. I look forward to visiting this beautiful city and learning – among other things - their take on what’s next for urban cores, and about public/private partnerships in economic development. Of course we’ll find time to visit the Museum of the American Revolution. By the way, if you have to miss this year, I hope you’ll consider joining us this time next year. These visits are powerful. I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership lately: what it takes to be a good leader, the character challenges I seem to wrestle with every day. Sometimes I wish I were more “fully baked,” as they say… you know? Do you ever look yourself in the mirror and wonder if you’re fully ready to lead? I submit to you that mindset is everything. No one is perfectly ready to lead; that said, we all can strive for the highest order of leadership: influence.
John Maxwell, in his book with the same name, identifies 5 Levels of Leadership. He goes on to say, “there always is the possibility to grow to the level above it.” Where do you find yourself?
Ultimately, leadership is on me. It’s on you. It’s less about “am I ready?” and more about accountability and character. Which is harder. And you never feel quite “done,” do you?
To my mind, the greatest way to gain leadership is through problem solving. And crisis is an accelerator. You say, “What? I have to wrestle through hardship to get better?” Yes. Problems introduce us to ourselves. Think about the Apollo missions… the vision vs the math, the odds. “Is this an opportunity, or do we back up? Who will this impact? Should we change our thinking…?” And problems introduce us to opportunities. “Is this the worst or best thing that’s ever happened?” They can galvanize us and harness our strength. It’s all in the mindset.
And, of course, it’s easier to steer a moving car. Which means that, ready or not, moving is more productive than freezing. And growth is the only guarantee that tomorrow will get better.
I really needed to hear this….
See you in the trenches,
Fall is upon us – already! And we’ve got a full slate of work ahead of us. Today I’m thinking back to our Annual Meeting theme for this year: Invest in Tomorrow. And earlier this year I also talked about David Gergen, and his thoughts on the need to invest in tomorrow’s leaders, and tomorrow’s thinking. Today, then, I want to talk with you about one of the initiatives we’ve started, specifically to help you, too, invest in tomorrow. I last talked about this in June, and it’s worth repeating. Career Connect Day is on October 17 this year, presented again by 3M and Medtronic and hosted at RiverCentre. My vision for this event is that it becomes your annual resource, connecting employers and students/adult job seekers from all cross the region to your companies! We are in our second year, and the school districts in the East Metro counties of Ramsey, Dakota, and Washington are leaning in. We are anticipating over 2,000 students in the first session, and we are extending the day to include potential interns/adult job seekers in the late afternoon session.
Career Connect Day is a celebration of partnerships. Ramsey County and Metro Transit have sponsored this event, providing transportation support for both students and adults. The Workforce Innovation Boards, Minnesota State system, the private school system, and school districts across the East Metro are taking a chance that this program can help – students and adults alike.
We are closing in on the event, so if you’re interested in partnering, attending, volunteering, or even sponsoring, move quickly as registrations are closing very soon. Thanks for all of the support we've received thus far, as we are now full of exhibitor booths, but can still use helping hands! If you're interested in volunteering or interested in any of the other ways to get involved, please contact us! Companies large and small show up, and we hope you will too.
See you in the trenches,
Following up on last week's blog on your Chamber’s top priorities, today I thought I’d provide an example of how our work to Drive Progress and Grow Leaders is reflected in our government affairs and public policy work.
As I said last week, your Chamber works to advance policy that will ensure our region is best equipped to promote business growth and to elect leaders who understand how policy directly impacts the economy.
This fall, all seats on the St. Paul City Council are up for election. A total of 30 candidates have filed to run for City Council. Of the seven current city council members, four have chosen not to run for re-election. That means we have at minimum four new elected officials. To say this election is pivotal to the future direction of our City would be an understatement.
Being proactive, our Government Affairs team has been spending the summer meeting with numerous candidates vying for a seat on the St. Paul City Council. Not only do we want to get to know these candidates as people and learn about their priorities, we also want to introduce them to the Chamber and our work. Through these conversations we are building relationships and discussing future opportunities to collaborate on shared goals.
Amanda and JP have found these meetings really valuable, so they have worked with our St. Paul Area Chamber Political Action Committee (PAC) to create an event for our members to similarly get to know the city’s future leaders. For the “Coffee, Candidates, and Conversations” event, think speed-networking. Each attendee will get the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with 17(!) candidates for St. Paul City Council. That’s 17 opportunities to introduce yourself and your business and ask questions of the folks who are going to shape the future direction of the City. All in one room! If we want our elected officials to be responsive to the priorities and concerns of business in their policy-making, they need to hear from businesses!
I know it’s somewhat cliché, but this is really an opportunity to make connections that count and to help build the groundwork for our future advocacy efforts. I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity and attend this event!
Last week’s blog has stayed with me. I’ve especially been reflecting on: “Among all the good things we could do, considering all the potential good work that could be done, how can we have the MOST impact? By choosing very carefully what to focus on – and staying away from the other potentially-interesting-but-not-number-one priorities. A limited life makes every decision we make so meaningful.” The question I’ve been asking myself – and whose answer I’d like to convey to you – is, what is your Chamber doing that will have the MOST impact, in service to our members and as the voice of business? When someone asks you why you are a Chamber member, I want to be sure you know what we’re doing on your behalf.
You deserve to know what your Chamber is focusing on because, candidly, as Member Owners, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your priorities are being represented. Your voice is critical to shaping how and what we communicate. As I see it, we have 4 top priorities, and they align with our strategic plan: driving progress, growing leaders, cultivating relationships, and building capacity.
I hear the urgency in your voices when we talk about the above; know that I take very seriously the responsibility to advocate on your behalf. And I welcome your input to advance my own thinking on this!
See you in the trenches,