Sunday, September 16, 2007

Dispatches from the YP Summit – Day Three

The final day of the summit began with an address from the mayor of Louisville. At the helm of the city for 18 years, the benefits of Jerry Abramson's leadership is extremely visible. After hanging around the area for just a few days, this is one cool city who knows how to get things done and build an attractive place for people to work and live. My own Nashville could learn a thing or two.

One clear distinction that Abramson drew in his talk was that of citizenship vs. residency. Cities will be far better off if they make it easy for people to be citizens (who vote, support local business, volunteer) than residents (people who simply work or live somewhere and not much else).

The first breakout session was led by the group behind FUEL Milwaukee. While not an incredibly exciting or invigorating time, it is always informative to get an in depth look at organization that has undergone a transformation. What they did will not work for everyone, but their lessons learned can prevent others from making mistakes.

After that, I attended a session about how the young professionals in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania began to become more civically engaged. And while the presentation was again a tad dry, I took away three main ideas by which social change can happen:
  1. Find something that people already care about as a way to introduce a social idea.
  2. This can lead to change from the bottom up, where a critical mass of people can influence behaviors at higher levels to change.
  3. This also develops a level of commitment on the part of those wanting the change, to make sure that the initiative is seen through.
After lunch, we finally got some great insights, and it came from the best of the best: Rebecca Ryan.

I heard her speak in Nashville a few years ago, and everything she said was dead on. She knows what's she doing, and it shows. It's taken time for her to find her niche, but she clearly knows what she's talking about and does it better than anyone else. If you're trying to figure out why young folks are leaving your company or city, give her a call and you'll quickly find out how to remedy the situation.

Her brief talk made the conference worth it. We also got a copy of her new book, and I can't wait to take a look at it. Here's some highlights I gleaned from her discussion:
  • Young people increasingly want more control over their own time.
  • The establishment (those currently in charge) are afraid because they know they need to change, but how?
  • Young professionals (YPs) today do not have their identity tied up in where they work, but rather what kind of person they are.
  • This is because YPs are free agents, free to pick up and go work somewhere else.
  • Woman, GenXers and minorities start 30-60% of all new businesses.
  • According to Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, for every 10 minutes someone spends in traffic, their civic engagement decreased by 10%.
Based on what I paid to attend, the conference was worth it, only because I could easily drive there. I believe this is a valuable annual event, but think that more thought and planning needs to go into who is leading the breakouts and sharing content.

Comments (0)