Passionately Detroit: A New Vision and Action

It was the summer of 1967.  My parents had taken my brother and me to Tiger Stadium in Downtown Detroit to enjoy America’s favorite pastime, baseball.  As best as I can recall, it was a great day at the old ballpark.

After the game we piled in the Chevy Impala and traveled I-75 north toward our home in the suburb. I distinctly recall looking out of the windows and asking my parents, “Why are there so many people standing along the highway looking down?” We continued to look, “Is something on fire? Where is the smoke coming from?” To be honest, mom and dad didn’t think much of it.

When we arrived home the phone was ringing – friends and family members wanted to know if we were okay.  Okay?  Well, why wouldn’t we be okay?

Riots! Haven’t you heard? Riots have broken out in Detroit!

The only thing else I remember about this chapter in my young life was the indelible memory of Moms and Dads sitting in their lawn chairs in their front yards with loaded rifles and shotguns, waiting to fend off any would be looters.

For many 1967 marked the beginning of the end of the great city of Detroit. The once great Detroit settled by the French in 1701 and later ruled by Great Britain.  The same Detroit that survived the great fire of 1805, the same Detroit that was once referred to as the Paris of the west because of its great architecture, Detroit, Motown, the Motor City was crumbling from within.

Following the riots of 1967 the politics of blame ensued as did the politics of handouts and the politics of poverty.

Blame didn’t stop the blight or crime. Handouts didn’t help anyone develop skills and poverty had grown into a generational problem.

Valiant efforts by some left the city wanting for rebirth.  It was nothing but a joke for comedians and an easy target for anyone that wanted to point to failure; it was sad, pitiful, and hopeless.

But something has changed recently in Detroit; that something is people that believe in the City, people with passion and plans, people with money and willing to invest their money and countless hours in something in which they believe.

A beautiful new football stadium downtown was developed, a spectacular baseball stadium with the revitalizing city’s silhouette providing a background on warm summer evenings, new theaters, growing medical facilities, a world class University (Wayne State), the once great architecture now being brought back to life, young “creatives” making the City home, residential lofts…and those visionaries.

Detroit is coming back but it’s not happening by accident, it’s happening because there is a plan and there is action.

A Japanese Proverb says, “Vision without action is a daydream, action without a vision is nightmare.”  But when you have vision and action – look out, these are the ingredients to make extraordinary changes the kind of changes that make history.


Deal With It

The only thing worse than dealing with those thorny, difficult, sometimes personal, emotional, complicated issues that require difficult decisions is…not dealing with those thorny, difficult, sometimes personal, emotional, complicated issues and leaving them to feaster with no decision.

Deal with it; don’t ignore it.

This is no time to be a boss

The term “boss” conjures up thoughts of Fred Flintstone’s loud mouth, screaming in your face, “do as you’re told” boss – Mr. Slately…well, at least in my twisted, heavily television influenced mind it does…

But a boss cannot make in today’s world.  We are not a do as you’re told society. We don’t produce do as you’re told products anymore and we certainly don’t provide do as you’re told services.  At least we shouldn’t, and if we do, we do so at our own peril.

The competition that understands and appreciates the value of human capital and taps into the energy, talent, and creativity of every person will likely destroy the company that is made up of do as you’re told types.

If you are a boss, it’s time to learn how to manage and lead.  If you are following orders, it’s time to think and find your own creative talents.

Shhhhhh – Listen

There are certain people that you really look forward to speaking with – and maybe you never considered it before, but it may be that the reason you look forward to speaking with them, is simply because they are excellent listeners.

“Listeners” are rare, but a true joy with which to converse

  • They listen and ask questions
  • They don’t interrupt you
  • They give you their undivided attention
  • They show genuine interest in what you are saying
  • They don’t try to “one up” your story
  • Their attention isn’t dictated by your position in life
  • They are genuine and humble

And what is one of the hallmarks of the best sales people?  Yep, listening…and whatever your “called” profession might be– sales, management, product or service, public or private sector, blue or white collar, profit or non-profit – you are selling!

So are you listening?



Decision Makers or Lunch Buddies?

Why is it so important to talk to decision makers?  Because they are the ones experiencing “pain.”  Your contact is three or four times removed from the real pain, he is just doing his job and all he cares about is getting his paycheck.  He doesn’t see or feel the pain, so if the pain goes away tomorrow or lingers for years wont impact his life one iota.

But his boss feels the pain.  She knows that the company’s profitability and her bonus are impacted by the pain.  She wants it to go away in the worst way, she wishes there was someone that could take this pain and make it disappear – if only she was talking to you, but you’re too busy talking to Joe and while Joe will be glad to go out to lunch with you again (as long as you buy) he will never hire you because he doesn’t even know there is pain.

Find Joe’s boss – before your competition does.