At an economic development conference a few years back, a speaker was highlighting the need for communities and business people to fuse the concepts of “dreaming” and “implementation”. A quote flashed on big screen behind the presenter, declaring- “Entrepreneur- A French word meaning, has ideas and actually does them.” The crowd laughed, but the discussion among attendees after the presentation highlighted the need for entrepreneurial mind sets in more than just business.
Entrepreneurs spot opportunities and convert those opportunities into businesses, events, developments and solutions to problems. They move quickly to implement new ideas and create unique community elements. Because businesses, events or solutions to issues implemented by entrepreneurs are “one of a kind”, they draw people into an area and create community pride.
So, why the resistance to entrepreneurship?
Smaller, rural communities seem to crave the known commodity of branded business types. Citizens tend to look at other communities within driving distance to say “why can’t we be more like them”, and bureaucratic entities encourage people to look backwards in time to nostalgically embrace how things used to be instead of intersecting with emerging trends and demographic shifts. Training programs struggle to teach local citizens skill sets associated with creating things that don’t currently exist.
But, because of our smaller relative size, do rural communities have a choice beyond embracing an entrepreneurial focus? Recent economic reports indicate that large chain retailers are finding it increasingly difficult to compete against on-line competition. Some economists indicate that increases in automation and other influences will result in roughly half of all jobs residing in entrepreneurial businesses by 2040. Policy decisions in Kansas have resulted in population loss, and new ideas are needed. Entrepreneurial businesses tend to donate a higher percentage of sales to local charities, and are more likely to use local professional services, like attorneys, banks, accountants and media.
To use a sports analogy, communities are like basketball players. Big communities can lumber down the court and throw their weight around because of their relative size. Smaller communities must be fast, opportunistic and willing to take some outside shots. Entrepreneurs can spot opportunities, move quickly to capitalize and create valuable changes that result in big community gains.
So, what can we do as rural communities to emphasize entrepreneurship? It starts with recognizing that entrepreneurs aren’t found only in business. They are found throughout various segments of our community. Supporting these local entrepreneurs with our time, talent and treasure is a way to advance Emporia towards an entrepreneurial mind set. We vote for entrepreneurs with the dollars we spend, our advocacy and our focus. We need to support the development of places that encourage entrepreneurs to exist in close proximity to other entrepreneurs so they can support each other. We need to encourage entrepreneurial educational practices that emphasize team building, resource attainment and realistic opportunism. In short, we need to build an entrepreneurial culture.
Over the past several years, we’ve seen Emporia pull in more outside dollars. We’ve grown jobs in some pretty unique business types and we have established some internationally acclaimed events due to entrepreneurship. Because we are surrounded by much larger communities that already have established chains and homogenous activities, our best chance to compete is through the unique opportunities that entrepreneurs provide.
So, let’s go beyond celebrating entrepreneurs and their can do attitudes this year. Lets recognize the critical role they play in creating a successful Emporia, and dedicate the resources, support and advocacy our locally owned businesses need to grow a better community all year long.
I’m Casey Woods, and that’s something to think about…
What a year 2016 was and as I look at the prospects for Emporia and our region I find even more to be excited about. I am going to do my best in 2017 to enjoy and hopefully contribute to our local glass being mostly full. That is not to say there are not challenges to be addressed and there are certainly always opportunities for improvement which should be sought!
Today I am celebrating the New Year and the area we live in and I am looking for ways we can make things better. Consider joining me in volunteering in at least one new endeavor to serve the greater good. Families, churches, neighborhoods, civic groups, schools and others offer these opportunities which are easy to find if we look.
I am looking for ways to appreciate and enjoy our community! Think about the venues in Emporia – the Granada Theatre, Emporia Arts Center, Albert Taylor Hall, Civic Auditorium, the White Arena, Welch Stadium, Bruder Theater, the Bowyer building and Fair Grounds complex, our schools and churches and more. Emporians and those in our area will have literally hundreds of opportunities for enjoyment and enrichment in 2017.
Emporia has no equal in Kansas as a destination for the active leisure traveler. The Glass Blown Open disc golf event, the DK cycling events, the Symphony in the Flint Hills are literally world class events and will draw visitors from around the world. These events and others offer us the opportunity to volunteer, to be a spectator and importantly to be part of the friendly and welcoming community Emporia is increasingly becoming known for.
With Wednesday Words Steve Sauder has done an exceptional job of raising our awareness of things to be grateful for, of opportunities to challenge us and of issues to stimulate our thinking. During the next few weeks as Steve enjoys some leisure time away, I along with several other guest commentators will be filling it. In the process we hope our listeners will find that occasional pearl of wisdom, gain understanding and awareness of local treasures and maybe even find a bit of humor.
I am guessing most would claim to have heard and know the Christmas story.
Last week my middle son’s minister sent out a list of Bible versus to read leading up to Christmas. The first one was Matthew 1:18-25
The Birth of Jesus the Messiah
18Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son;[b] and he named him Jesus.
So, I read the scripture above and learned that betrothed means engaged. I also learned to my surprise that Joseph had “planned to dismiss” Mary when he found out she was expecting a child, but in a manner so not to disgrace her. But, an angel of the Lord intervened.
Can you imagine trying to live through that situation today?
The Footnotes available with scriptures indicated Joseph staying with and quietly marrying Mary made the baby Jesus the “son of a carpenter” rather than the “son of a harlot!”
That could have been problematic.
Just saying even at my age the Christmas story is still unfolding and acknowledging there is a lot we all still have to learn.
Have a Merry Christmas and the best New Year ever!
Any changes in Donald Trump after January 20th will be of great interest to Americans and the world.
My fascination with him today has to do with one factor – the truth. Trump seems to believe “the truth” is whatever or however he sees something in order to make it work for him.
This has been coined as “post truth,” which we discussed a couple of weeks ago.
The New York Times recently quoted Trump talking about truth and Tony Schwartz who was the ghost writer on his book “the Art of the Deal.”
Trump said, “Schwartz did have one phrase I really loved in my book. He said “I play to people’s fantasies” by using “truthful hyperbole.” What he meant is I make stuff up.”
Trump continues, “Nobody cares. They want to dream. They want a spectacle. They want gold and towers. They want me to get tough. Fact-checkers! Is that even a job?”
Then Trump actually says, “I know what Americans want. They don’t want truth. They want excitement, disruption. They want to be led. They want authority. They want victories. They want parades. They want a wall at the Mexican border — so let them think I really might build one!”
The $64 question becomes can President of the United States Trump get away with not telling the truth in the same manner as TV Star Trump or businessman Trump or candidate Trump or President-Elect Trump?
It would seem to me that being truthful might be an essential for the most powerful man in the world, but thus far Donald Trump hasn’t worried much about “the truth.” Do you think President Trump will be held to higher standard?
If “the truth will set you free,” as many of us have learned the hard way – what is the opposite reaction?
Starting on January 20th Americans, no, the world will see how President Trump handles something as simple as “the truth.” At minimum this will be “Something to Think About!”
People sometimes seek my advice on how to be successful in investing. Obviously my family gave me a great start, but even with that advantage it takes some hard work, a good education, smart choices and really good luck to be successful.
So, with that all said let me share some advice for young investors that is as close to fool proof as anything I know.
This story is worth repeating because it is a tried and true plan that while not very sexy, consistently works.
Four young men went to work for the same company after college. It was a fast growing company and they were being paid very well. So well in fact they sought the advice of an older man who obviously had done well in creating wealth.
"Where should we invest” they asked? “Mutual funds, equities, partnerships, bonds, commodities - what is your best advice?"
The sage older gentlemen said "My best advice is first to invest in cash value life insurance."
"Life insurance? Surely you jest" the youngsters ask.
"No," he said, "because cash value life insurance from a top rated company has passed the test of time over and again. It's not a get rich quick deal, but a decent return is pretty much guaranteed plus you have protection from lots of situations you may face later you can't even imagine today. Those other vehicles might make you more money, but the risk is much, much greater. You can take those risks later.”
He suggested each young man buy as much cash value life insurance as they could afford and said "I promise if you do this you will be thankful some day."
On the occasion of the 4 men’s 43rd birthdays they were together and one fellow asked, "Did any of you follow Mr. Successful’s advice about buying life insurance?"
Three said they had not, but one guy said he had. He said he'd agreed to invest $1,000 per month and that once it started coming out of his account he didn't really miss it. It bought him $1.1 million in a coverage called 65 Life.
"So, how has it worked out," they asked?
He had paid $240,000 in premiums and had a cash surrender value over $300,000, plus insurance coverage over $1.5 million. And, if he continued his premiums his projected Annual Income at age 65 would be over $70,000 a year!
"Best investment I've made," he said "for several reasons with the most important being all these years my family has been well protected and my investment paid consistent dividends.
My advice for anyone wanting build a strong financial foundation in these uncertain times is to take a hard look at cash value life insurance from a good company. Company records are easy to check life insurance seldom loses value!