Detroit Still Has A Long Way To Go

Recently Men’s Health posted the Top 100 Socially Networked Cities in the U.S. There were a few surprises, especially with some cities that I expected to see in the top 10 (Chicago #39, New York #53).  There was also a little disappointment to see Detroit ranked #94 in the study and listed under “least socially networked.”  Yes, I know it’s ridiculous to put any weight in a study like this however, it did make me realize that the place I call home has a long way to go.  I sometimes forget that not everyone uses Foursquare or Gowalla to check in.  People I know still don’t get Twitter.  What is Instagram?  Tumblr…huh?  I think you get the idea.

This ranking goes further than being socially networked.  It goes further than the many entrepreneurs I know that are determined to open up shop in the city and look for their opportunities to make a difference Detroit’s rebirth.  What is going to actually make a difference?  I think it has to be the adoption of not just the social tools I mentioned earlier, but also the adoption of the technologies that are available today by the large corporations in the area.

Look at what Ford has done in the social space.  They are leveraging the tools.  They have created a personality behind the blue oval.  They are developing vehicles that leverage the new connected customer and making the car more than just a car.  Don’t blink.  Now they are looking to the cloud.

The biggest thing that we can do as “socially connected” people is educate.  We have a network that we should leverage and begin to find ways to teach others.  The biggest asset we have is not a particular product or service.  It’s actually our intellectual property and what we know about technology and the web that we must share.

I still see companies trying things they’ve always done before.  Marketing has changed.  PR has changed.  Sales has changed.  Customer service has changed.  All because of the web and the social tools at our disposal.  I’m not suggesting the web is the cure for everything (but it’s close!).  What I am suggesting is that the web has now become more of an integral part of how people and companies do business in the world today.  The “traditional” methods of doing business are now historical methods.  The “future” technologies are now current technologies.

It’s time to educate so Detroit can move up from least socially networked to one of the top socially networked cities.  What are you doing to teach others?  Start by inviting them to 2 upcoming events this April…Ignite Detroit on April 14th and Future Midwest on April 28-29.  After that, do something with the knowledge you’ll gain and the connections you’ll make.  #makeithappen

“Imported From Detroit.”

Before I say anything, watch this again.  And again.  And again.

This isn’t a review of Chrysler’s spot featuring Eminem that ran during the Super Bowl yesterday.  I think it’s safe to say that it was well received.  This is more about what that spot meant to those of us that call Detroit home (and I’m using Detroit from a regional perspective and not just Detroit proper).  We are a passionate bunch.  We are driven to see change happen in this region.  If you look at the community around local events like Tedx Detroit and Future Midwest, you will see a collective of people that share a common love for our city.  We are driven to show the world that Detroit is innovative and able to reinvent itself beyond just the automotive industry.  We actually do know how to use the internet and see it as a way to build community and foster growth.

Sure, we have a chip on our shoulder.  Have you seen what has been said?  Have you seen how Detroit has been portrayed?  Blight.  Political controversy.  We want to change that.  We want to show you the quality of people that live here.  We want you to discover the beauty of the state of Michigan.  We want you to join our community and leave here saying, “I love Detroit.  I love Michigan.”

Tall order given the skepticism of some, but within reach given the optimism of others.

Yes, I’m putting a lot of weight and faith behind a 2 minute car commercial.  However, it was more than that for me.  This was Detroit’s anthem on a national stage and people outside of Detroit took notice.

I’m Patrick Reyes…imported from Detroit (and an optimist).

Catalyst 2010 – The Tension Is Good

Last week I had the honor of attending Catalyst 2010 in Atlanta.  What started out in 2000 as a conference attended by 1,500 church leaders in Atlanta has since grown to an event attended by over 100,000 people.  Most recently a second conference was added to the West Coast with 3,000 leaders attending.  I had heard about it through friends from Kensington Community Church but couldn’t really grasp the magnitude until I was there in person.

At its core, Catalyst doesn’t differ much in message from other conferences I’ve attended this past year like Future Midwest and TedxDetroit, with one exception…change is talked about in the context of the places many of us attend on Sundays, our churches.  This conference, at it’s core, is about “maximum impact” and being a “catalyst” for change.

The core vision of Catalyst has always been to impact the next generation. By creating “change agents” throughout the church that possess wisdom and understanding, the opportunity is created to usher in the necessary adjustments to an ever-evolving church. By helping these leaders grow in their leadership ability – Catalyst can have impact on an entire generation. We have a high belief in the impact that one changed life can have on another and therefore focus our efforts towards personal change with a community application.

Catalyst sees a need to ignite and unite the next generation of leaders allowing their passions and gifts to flourish and have maximum impact in our churches and culture.

The list of speakers was incredible: Andy Stanley, Francis Chan, Craig Groeschel, Perry Noble, Beth Moore, T.D. Jakes, Daniel Pink, and Seth Godin…just to name a few.  Each of them, in their own way, spoke about how tension in an organization can be used to positively foster change.

This idea completely changed my way of thinking about leadership.  I never thought tension was good.  I often viewed tension as conflict, something I have found difficulty in dealing with.  However, when presented with this way of thinking, I began to realize tension in an organization can be a good thing.  Tension in this sense challenges an organization.  It requires communication and feedback.  It forces leadership to think differently and do things in a way that hasn’t been done before.

As I look back on my career, I often tried to eliminate tension and solve a problem that wasn’t actually a problem but more a tension.  Is it possible that the tension was required so that the organization could move forward?  I guess this is something that I’ll be on the lookout for as I move into this next stage of my career.  Are there TENSIONS that need to be MANAGED versus PROBLEMS that need to be SOLVED?  Andy Stanley talked about leveraging tension to the benefit of an organization.  This is a tremendous balancing act for any leader.  You have to weigh BOTH sides and take your personal bias out of the equation.

My faith in God was reignited after Catalyst.  I realized there are some tweaks I need to make and some things I need to get bring back in order to stay grounded in my belief in God.  My hope and prayer is that I can be receptive to tension and leverage it to not only advance the organization but to also advance God’s Kingdom.

My challenge to you is to be aware of the tensions in your life and use them as a catalyst for change in you and your community.  The tension is good!

UPDATE: You can also read this article HERE at Rochester Media.  Thanks to Tom Gendich for giving me some space!

Then What?

Today’s post is all about Detroit.  Actually, my last post was about Detroit too.  Go figure.  I guess Detroit has been on my mind a lot lately.  Over the last few days, I’ve seen Eric Proulx‘s trailer float around the interwebs on Facebook and on Twitter.  It’s an AMAZING piece that I hope becomes a reality.  If you go to Lemonade Detroit, you’ll get an idea for the inspiration for the movie.  What I’m looking forward to the most, is Eric bringing to life what is good in the city instead of what has traditionally been shown when people do stories about our city.

“Lemonade: Detroit” is a film about the disarming resilience of a city that can no longer rely on a single industry for its livelihood, and the entrepreneurial strengths of those who are reinventing themselves and their communities.

Instead of sensationalizing blight, “Lemonade, Detroit” will sensationalize hope, told through the intensely personal stories of those who are turning the city into what it will become.

Lemonade: Detroit Trailer on Vimeo

This message is very similar to what a group of people hope to accomplish with Future Midwest.  You’ve read my thoughts on this local conference previously but they are worth a reminder.  One person in particular who I believe exemplifies the fighting spirit of Detroit and Michigan is Dave Murray.  I feature him today because (1) it’s Follow Friday and (2) today is his birthday!  Two really good reasons if you ask me.  I’ve gotten to know Dave over the summer and have really been inspired by his heart and his passion for this area.  He does what he can to promote the city and looks for ways to recognize others for their efforts.  I can’t imagine a better person to recommend to you today other than him.  He sees that this region needs to redefine itself and ask the question, then what?

Happy birthday, Dave!  Enjoy your day!

It’s OK To Say “no”

Lake Michigan Sunset at PJ Hoffmaster State Park

Life gets in the way.  It gets in the way of what’s truly important and we sometimes forget that it’s OK to say “no” to things just so we can get back on track.  Tonight I was going through Google Reader and Twitter and saw  posts from Becky Johns (Take Control of Your Stream) and Nikki Stephan (22 Important Questions to Ask Yourself).  They were about different topics but for me anyway they had the same message…take a step back.

My work (as I’m sure yours) has been ridiculously out of control as of late.  It wasn’t until this past weekend when I took 2 days off to have a long weekend camping that I was able to relax.  It was a wonderful 4 days at PJ Hoffmaster State Park spending time with the people that matter the most to me…my wife and kids.  And as you can see by the picture above, we even took time to watch a beautiful sunset over Lake Michigan.  When I got back to work this week, I began to take inventory of what I do daily and say no to the things that don’t provide value.

Becky’s post really encouraged me to take a look at my social networks.  As I continue to learn from this beautiful creation of “social media”, I need to remind myself that more is not necessarily better.  It has to be quality over quantity.  When the numbers get too big, the chance of authentic and valuable friendships becomes limited.  It reminds me that one of the objectives for me in this space was to ultimately meet people in person through events like Future Midwest, Social Media Club Detroit, or October’s 140 Conference Detroit.  I’ve tried to become more selective in who I connect with especially on Facebook.

Nikki’s post reminded me that saying no to busyness and spending time with my family is so important.  Tonight I put my blackberry down for just 30 minutes and played with my 1.5 year old son.  It was fun seeing him laugh hysterically as I tickled him.  This past weekend I watched my 5 year old son hit balls in a batting cage and went body surfing with my 2 girls in Lake Michigan.  Those are the memories I want to have of the summer and not get so caught up in work that time flies by.

What do you need to say “no” to?  How are you taking control of your life so you can enjoy what matters most?

Build Your Community and Embrace It!

Over the past week, thoughts of “community” have been racing around my head.  This started when I heard a podcast with Dave Murray (@davemurr) and Sarah Worsham (@sazbean) talking about the social web and community.  It’s well worth the time and I highly recommend you listen HERE.  I’m a big fan of takeaways and there were 8 that resonated with me after hearing Dave speak.

  1. Don’t build community around your product
  2. Communities are based off of needs and passions
  3. Communities are wrapped around people and communication…product is secondary
  4. True community is allowed to grow through its own organic process
  5. The Social Web is a long term strategy…word of mouth and action happening off line
  6. Introductions are made online but meaningful connections happen in real life (confirmed by Scott Stratten, @unmarketing, today)
  7. Communities cultivate brand loyalty (see Joseph Jaffe, @jaffejuice)
  8. Putting a face / personality to a company allows for a deeper connection

What does this all mean?  To me, if you can develop and embrace a community, you’ll be able to mobilize a group of people around a common interest and take action.  Tools like Google Alerts (thanks Gini Dietrich), Facebook and Twitter allow this conversation to happen immediately.  Why not leverage them to listen to your audience and provide a value to your growing community?  If companies and organizations saw the social web as a long term investment instead of another platform for one-way communication, I’m confident they would ultimately see the ever popular ROI they long for.

I was fortunate enough to meet Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver) last week, founder of the 140 Conference Series.  His visit to Detroit was to kick off the planning for the conference to make its way to the Motor City on October 20th.  I’m honored to be part of the team to help bring it here and put Detroit on the national stage for 2 days.  Since then, Jeff has mentioned on many occasions that he believes this conference will be special because of the people and the spirit he’s encountered in his brief visit.  I think if you asked any of us that got to hang out with him, this is another extension of the energy we felt after the Future Midwest Conference earlier this year.  There is a community of people that live in metro Detroit that want to help turn this region around and make it a national destination.  The opening video from Future Midwest still gives me chills.  Watch it below to see what I mean.

The final thought I’ll leave you with is this.  The social web is about one thing and one thing only…people.  There is not magic tool or “trick” to be successful at it.  As long as you have a personality and value the people you’re CONVERSING  WITH, you’ll have success.

Your turn.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  Have a great week!

It’s all about the customer

One of the benefits of GM being a corporate sponsor of Future Midwest was getting the opportunity to meet with Joseph Jaffe (@jaffejuice) and hear him talk about his latest book, Flip the Funnel.  I finally started to read it last week.  What are my initial thoughts?  It’s all about the customer.  Jaffe proposes “flipping” the traditional marketing funnel upside down and using your current customers as your brand evangelists to help generate new sales.

This certainly is a different mindset among a lot of corporations today.  Think about it.  Most companies are solely focused on the time of the purchase.  What about focusing on the time between the purchase?  There are countless examples out there now…think Zappos.  They are all about the customer and customer service.

The other factor in all of this are the social tools (it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention those!).  Customers talk to each other!  We all know the power of word of mouth and customers trust each other more so than they trust the brands themselves.  Jaffe uses the “Conversation Prism” from Brian Solis to illustrate his point (see below).  With all the tools out there, are brands paying attention to what customers are saying about them?

With Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, consumers are generating content and opinions that influence their personal networks.  If brands can talk to and take care of these customers regularly, then what do you think the conversation will be about?  My hypothesis is that it will be positive.

The last thing I want to leave you with is this.  GM at one time had a division that was clearly focused on the customer.  It was Saturn.  Can you imagine if that customer experience existed today with the products that are currently in market?  Remember the “Saturn Homecoming”?  Saturn invited ALL of its customers to Spring Hill, TN to see where their cars were built.  The response?  44,000 people made their way to Tennessee.  Talk about customer loyalty!