The Creative Cities Summit was a fabulous 2 1/2 day event held here in Lexington Kentucky last week. Most of it was TED-quality, including the hallway networking. The conference rooms were filled with “Linchpins” – people literally changing the world right now (and, I believe, some that are about to.)
The event was not opened by gentle flashing the overhead lights for people to come in to sit down, but by the wonderful March Madness Marching Band…. who, to my delight, made people spill their coffee with pure acoustic energy and enthusiasm…It was wonderful.
We had amazing presentations from Ben Self, Bill Strickland, Charles Landry, Rebecca Ryan, Jeremy Gutsche, Richard Florida and the best Pecha Kucha presentation set I’ve seen with Nathan Cryder, Griffin Vanmeter, Saraya Brewer, Jay McChord, Colin Wallace, Wayne Hall, Ben Askren, Todd Willey, and moving poetry from Donna Ison.
The sessions were glued together with a spectrum of music, from circus-folk to *amazing* hip-hop, to sweeping piano, the exotic Mecca Studio, and talented guitarist Tee Dee Young… and many more I’ve not listed.
Topics ranged from livability, walkability, entrepreneurialism, social change, sustainability, technology, diversity and recovery.
I wanted it to be like pouring an energy drink over the sleepy Lexington business community… it would taste the elixir, blink its eyes, and begin doing something to change the city.
Then I overheard a conversation between two head-shaking Lexingtonians at a table near ours after one of the “edgier” presentations that went something like this:
That was different – we could never do that type of presentation…we have to be more “business like.”
At first, I thought nothing of it… but then I fully processed the message….
What exactly do they think of as “business-like” and why do they think that this is sustainable?
- If “business-like” means “shush” and keep your voice down…as if inside a mausoleum….
- If “business-like” means you require the “wierd” people to modify their behavior when they meet with you….
- If “business-like” means nod in agreement with anything the crowd is saying (especially if the politicians are watching.)…
- If “business-like” means you must look and dress like everyone else…
- If “business-like” means young, white males with well-known family names…
- If “business-like” means never take chances, take the safe route which avoid failure (even if it requires mediocrity)
- If “business-like” means your brilliant young team members must “pay their dues” at the copy machine before they are given a voice …
- If “business-like” means you focus on boosterism rather than real results.
- If “business-like” means that you “close the comments”… and disallow public criticism.
- If “business-likes” means invite the “wierd” people to your office as entertainment or consultants, but never hire them….
…then, I predict, you will be out of business soon.
To me… the future of business will be much like the facets of this event… edgy, loud, unconventional…
It will make many shake their heads. And spill their coffee.
You will be hit from all sides by things you never see coming…
- It will require large numbers of high-energy participants.
- It will make reams of money.
- It will leverage the creative energy of everyone.
- It will offend.
- It will delight.
- It will be ignored by many as “strangeness.”
- It will make you lose your best employees.
- It will destroy competition.
- It will complement our universities.
- It will attract and retain talent.
- It will put you’re city on the map… if you have the courage to actually do it.
Move over establishment… things are about to get a bit noisy.