Talk isn’t Cheap in Charlotte- it’s Quite Expensive

“Talk is cheap”

Cheap according to who? I think that quote deserves some sort of context. From my standpoint- a transplant in Charlotte, NC- talk seems to come with an expensive price tag.

I have been meandering around the Charlotte business environment for almost two years now, and it seems that talk gets a better rap here than actually doing stuff.

Doing stuff.

Why, you may think I’m a little off-centered. Usually doing would be the method, the agent of change, if you will. That’s true, but in an old-school, conservative environment like Charlotte, it seems that the powers-that-be have no plans on bringing change. Therefore, talk is the best method.

It seems so.

For example, the Carolina Preservation Society has been struggling for years to get the attention of Charlotteans. “Save the landmark!” some people reply. “The Carolina Theatre has a history since 1927!” others cry still. The result? Nothing. The city closed it down, and it is only open for tours. Sometimes.

But at least people talked.

People want change. Charlotte has been on the rise to be the next great city in the south. But the arts are lagging. Business is growing, but ideas are stale.

Mike Collins on Charlotte Talks brings on people from Story Slam Charlotte, CAST, amongst others. People call in, write emails, and tweet about why Charlotte needs more.

Then the libraries decide they need to close, and all of a sudden there’s an uproar.

Charlotte decided to talk.

Robert Johnson decided to join the talk, saying that Charlotte’s business environment is still close-minded.

Johnson forgot that Charlotte people can talk, but angry old black men can not.

Silly Johnson, leave the talking for the others.

Why is talk so expensive? None of the observations here reveal a cost.

Sorry, I’ve been talking.

As people breathe relief that their voices have been heard, Charlotte is being hit by costs left and right. All talk does is bring awareness.

With the closing of libraries and shortening of hours, the city loses access to intellectual capital.

With the lack of arts (theater, music, etc.) the city loses channels where people can add value to life, make life worth living and enjoying. We lose the ability to be curious. To think and ask questions about why, and what if.

With all the people just talking (or not talking nor doing) we lose historical places like the Carolina Theatre, places that tell transplants like myself what Charlotte was, how far it came, and what it can become. Any big business can build something, but it takes a community to preserve something.

Talk is expensive, because we spend so much time telling people what should be done, instead of investing our time and resources doing what should be done.

We’re done talking.


An Open Letter to Ben Roethlisberger


I am a born and raised Pittsburgher. A die-hard Steelers fan. So naturally it pains me to deal with this situation.

I am not here to write to you how this situation could have been avoided, but why.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, Ben, is not just a team. It embodies the blue-collar, work-hard-play-hard, in-your-face mentality of the city. Pittsburgh does work. Most of the time it doesn’t get the news or the accolades it deserves. But that’s okay, because it’ll continue doing business-as-usual.

So Ben, what the hell are you thinking?

Let’s get some things out the way. First, thank you for not messing up too much on your first Super Bowl. The Team won that one. Secondly, thank you for that unreal last drive in your second Super Bowl run- what a catch!

Now, apparently some facts about the Steelers escaped that rattled brain of yours. Allow me to plug them back in:

1.You became a Steeler because you fit IN the Steelers system. Not because you ARE the system. Do not get that twisted.

2. Because the team represents the city, and you unfortunately became the face of the team, you represent Pittsburgh. Your actions speak much louder than you think.

You see Ben, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL in general are what we call brands. Brands can be associated with personalities, character traits, and other descriptions. For example, the Rooney family created the Steelers brand. Goodell is trying to manage the NFL brand.

And you Ben, are doing a fantastic job trying to destroy both.

Now as a native child of the city and a fan of the team, you have put me in a tough situation. I appreciate your play on the field. But your antics off the field are defiling (defiling means bad, Ben) the Steelers name.

Steelers football will move on without you if necessary.

I realize that you are from Ohio. Your nature insists on doing some very stupid things. You will make mistakes. That’s okay. I know you won’t be perfect, and I accept that. But keep your mistakes on the field, and in preseason.

The Steelers Nation will continue to stand for hark work, attitude, integrity, ethics, and old-fashioned sore-for-days football.

If we didn’t, hell…we’d be Baltimore fans. And who wants that?

To wrap things up (no pun intended), I hope this serves as a wake-up call. You’ve done a lot for the Steelers Ben. But, if the Rooney family lets you go, let me assure you that you’ll be missed for only a little while.

You fit the team, Ben. Now fit the brand.


What Does Success Look Like to You?


Every time we sit down with a prospective client, we ask them a question similar to the title of this post.

Their perception of success.

It is a pretty easy question to ask, but if one isn’t quite sure about their future, it could prove to be pretty difficult. Or, there could be more than one answer.

For Example (note: only examples, none of these represent our clients):
-Client A: At the end of the year, I want to increase my sales and profit by 22%

-Client B: I want to open another production facility at the other side of the city

-Client C: I want to double walk-in traffic and traffic to my website

As you can see, they all have a vision of ‘success.’ But looking closer, each client doesn’t necessarily need the same thing. It might be broken down like the following:

-Client A:
Before offering services that we could provide, let’s examine your expenses. If you are losing money somewhere, we can address that situation first. Then we can work on which marketing activities will fit your situation. Are they selling online as well? Where are they located?

Asking the right questions will help save the client money, and put your company in a more favorable position.

-Client B:
Now this could be a lot of fun. This client could need to boost sales and marketing, or a solid business plan to shop to investors so they don’t need to invest too much of their own money. Like in economics, the easiest way is usually the best.

-Client C:
This last scenario sounds like an awareness problem. That may not be the only case. How consistent is their messaging? Where is their storefront? How is their website traffic related to sales?

We have found that starting with the end in mind (with the end meaning reaching success) is the best way to form a marketing campaign. So never accept that they want to be successful. We got to dig deeper.

Gen. Y: Stop Wasting Your Talent

I do not have many pet peeves. Very few, in fact. Some of the few include:

-Chewing with your mouth open
-Blissful ignorance
-People wasting their talent

This post is dedicated to the third on the list. Nothing bothers me more than to see people blessed with amazing talent and opportunity to excel in whatever they want, and for some reason choose not do to so. Whether it is intelligence, an invention, or having an influential network, I am continually astounded by the lack of drive some people have. And nothing disappoints me more than seeing my peers- Generation Y- fall into this mix of mediocrity.

By no means is this my version of Colbert’s “Wag of my Finger”, this is supposed to be a rally cry for Gen. Y to start changing the business environment the way we see fit. Below are the reasons and the Gen. Y’ers that should get this movement in full swing.

Smartest Generation…EVER
Okay, according to Pew Research, the number of Y’ers in higher education and those that graduated, we are supposed to be. You and I know plenty of Y’ers that shouldn’t cross the street by themselves, but overall we are a bunch of smartypants. If that is the case then, where is all the brainpower? Why are Y’ers spending hours a day looking for entry-level positions that are beneath them, instead of spending that same amount of time creating? Let’s divert the energy to expand our environment, not looking for a space to fit in it. We’re better than that.

Follow the Path Before Us
In the fantastic book of SUPERFreakonomics, it talked about the probability of a person being a professional athlete, specifically one becoming a baseball player. What was the most accurate predictor? If their direct line (parents, grandparents, etc.) were professional athletes. The same can be applied to starting and running your own enterprise. If your parents, brothers, close cousins started their own idea, that same gene is in you. My father started his own business before, and I observed how he ran it; the ups and downs of management, the trials and tribulations of small business, and yet the pure joy he had while he was doing it. Hence, when I saw the opportunity of starting a company, I seized it.

With the Baby Boomers and Late-Boomers running this system, there are plenty of Gen. Y’ers that have that entrepreneur gene. I’ve seen it. Here in Area Fifteen, we’re doing a study about entrepreneurs. Not only are the majority of people here under 35, but more than 90 percent of them were the eldest child of the family. And with my hypothesis being that someone in their family owned and/or started their own business while they were growing up, I hope to have quite the fascinating white paper.

Competition is WIDE Open
If there is any time to test your ideas, the time is now. The market is demanding new products and services, new methods in doing business. This is the time when we can take the torch and starting building a new economy.

We have several options: we can let this Great Recession beat us into submission, we can rise up, join together and build something new, or we can choose to do nothing, and rely on others to bail us out.

If I know my group of folks, there is only one option above that’s salient. So let’s do something about it.

We are in a transitional period in the economy people. We got to keep Society’s Baton from hitting the ground.

Goodness forbid if we willingly eliminate ourselves from the race.

Bravo, Vancouver- Finish with Good PR

The Winter games in Vancouver started out a little rough: the fourth arm didn’t rise, the was a shortage of snow (didn’t see that coming), and the security prevented people from being close to the Olympic torch.

Talk about a headache.

Oh, and by the way- in the first week of the games, Canada’s medal count was a little bit higher than pathetic.

Looked like it’s gonna be a loong two weeks.

But the Olympian Gods had something in mind for our happy-go-lucky northern neighbors. And thank goodness, no one likes a disappointed Canadian.

Team Canada started kicking butt. Fourteen GOLD medals, way to protect your house!

And the element of their Olympic resurrection that pleased me the most was its closing ceremonies. Not only did they poke fun of their malfunctions during the opening, they also mended wounds by bringing back the athlete who didn’t get a chance to light her section, which was awesome.

The Vancouver Organizing Committee (and Team Canada) showed a very important point of public relations and competition: it is not how you start the event/game/day, it’s how you finish.

Although Team Canada and the organizers had a rocky start, they proved that they were truly Olympians.

Well done.