Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Plan 2020: Citizens of No Mean City

This post originally appeared on IndyHub's blog.

Thirty years ago it might have been hard to convince residents of “Naptown” that Indianapolis would some day host one of the World’s premiere events, the Super Bowl. It might also have been hard to convince them that Indianapolis would be recognized as a mecca for bicycle use or that Indianapolis would become an attractive urban metropolis for twenty- and thirty-somethings. My, how things have changed.

And just one example of the growing enthusiasm comes from an inscription that’s engraved in the limestone exterior of The Hall (our old city hall), a quote from former Mayor Charles Bookwalter that reads: “I am myself a citizen of no mean city.” The saying has clearly gained popularity around Indy.

Smart people and savvy groups and organizations are helping Indianapolis ride a tidal wave of positive momentum. But while great things are happening in Indianapolis, we shouldn’t rest on our laurels. As a city we have to value vision and growth, and we need a collective rallying cry that will capture the vision for the future of Indy.

Plan 2020 is a collective pioneering planning process that is defining the next century for the city. The plan will result in a visionary Bicentennial Plan that meshes community vision, values and strategy with an unprecedented, coordinated update to core city government plans.

As a collaboration between the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee (GIPC), theDepartment of Metropolitan Development (DMD) and community leaders, the plan is designed to make Indianapolis a better place to live, work and visit.

One of the reasons that Indy is riding high on momentum can be attributed to the growing number of young professionals living downtown.

Generally, young professionals prefer a dense environment, rent instead of buy and want to be within walking distance of amenities and entertainment. While Indy is successfully recruiting young professionals to downtown, we are often losing these same professionals to the surrounding suburban and rural areas when they decide to have a family.

This graph illustrates the opportunity Indy has to create a plan that encourages the growing young professional population to stay in Indianapolis. We need Indianapolis to be an attractive place to live that lures young professionals and families, and Choose Indy, one of five committees that comprise Plan 2020, is part of that. But Plan 2020 needs your help, too.

Plan 2020 is using MindMixer, an online community engagement platform, to generate ideas, hypothesize new solutions, gather valuable feedback and measure the impact of a community’s contributions in a productive, two-way dialogue.

MindMixer provides opportunities for local government and citizens to collaborate by connecting our civic challenges to community problem-solvers. We want to hear what ideas you have for attracting people to live in Indianapolis.

You and your friends, family and neighbors have the opportunity to build a better Indianapolis. That input will be taken into account by Plan 2020, who is tracking the impact that your ideas will have on the community.

Indianapolis is full of bright and energetic leaders who want to build a stronger future for themselves and Indianapolis. Part of what makes living in Indianapolis so exciting is that people with ideas and enthusiasm are rewarded with the opportunity to contribute. This is your seat at the table and your opportunity to be heard.

We are all citizens of no mean city.

Everything is Roses When You Hold onto Your Guns

Whipped this image up to commemorate one of my favorite rock n' roll lines. It's from Breakdown by Guns N' Roses. Speaks to the essence of never giving up.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Indy’s Roadmap to the Future

This post originally appeared on City Gallery.

Downtown Indianapolis is brimming with positive momentum. New residential developments, a robust food scene, strong urban neighborhoods and Bikeshare have downtown riding high. While downtown’s population and momentum is soaring, some other areas in our city are losing residents and face growth issues. Land in Marion County is also at a premium. We can’t expand our borders like we did with Unigov. We have to get strategic about how we recruit and compete for residents.

Some parts of Indy do compete, like downtown. Downtown’s success can be linked to a number of factors, one being that it is the only bustling urban metropolis in the area. The city’s challenge is identifying a way to make all of Indianapolis more competitive, so the city can continue to grow.\

Enter Plan 2020.

Plan 2020 creates a new approach to planning in Indianapolis, meshing community vision, values, and strategy with an unprecedented, coordinated update to core city government plans. Plan 2020’s mission is to make Indianapolis a better place to live, work and visit.

Five themes have been identified as instrumental to developing a compelling future for Indianapolis.

·         CHOOSE INDY – Building safe, vibrant and competitive neighborhoods for all residents.
·         LOVE INDY – Fostering an emotional connection to our city through places, amenities and activities.
·         CONNECT INDY – Connecting people, goods, information and neighborhoods to make navigating the city easier.
·         WORK INDY – Cultivating and maximizing economic opportunity in Indianapolis.
·         SERVE INDY – Promoting civic engagement and service to others as a defining characteristic of our city.

Plan 2020 is a collaboration between the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, Department of Metropolitan Development and community leaders. This coordination will make Plan 2020 more strategic than typical planning initiatives and will be honest and transparent about what city government can accomplish.

Plan 2020 has the perfect home for this task: old City Hall, which has been rebranded as The Hall. The Hall serves as an urban think tank and hub for the city’s new strategic plan and other community-based planning in the City. The Hall will be one of Plan 2020’s engagement vehicles, helping to produce collaboration and discussion among Indianapolis residents. The Hall will host non-traditional public meetings, forums, events and activities to spur innovative thinking about the future of Indianapolis. In addition to housing Plan 2020, The Hall also has an interactive gallery space that highlights community initiatives, design and urban development.

Plan 2020 won’t have all the answers to Indianapolis’ problems, but it will develop a roadmap that makes Indy an even better place to live. Share your two cents by visiting The Hall or following us on social media at @IndyPlan and @TheHall_Indy.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Quick Fixes for Your Content Conundrum

Content is the fuel for many online marketing strategies. Whether it’s blogs, articles, case studies, videos or white papers, content production is a necessity to maintain a strong presence online. As marketers, many of us become content curators and are charged with either producing content or managing its production. Getting inspiration and ideas for new content can be one of the biggest hurdles content producers have to overcome.

Here are some good ideas for solving your content production crisis.

Odds are that your organization is creating and designing presentations for clients, conferences and internal meetings. Guess what? This is great content that you can repurpose as a blog. An ideal blog post weighs-in at 250 to 350 words. You should be able to take the ideas from two to three presentation slides and turn them into a coherent blog post.

Good content provides answers to questions that potential clients might have. You answer questions all day long via email. So, if a client is asking you about a particular problem or issue you should turn that question into a blog. Using this method will ensure you are creating good content that your audience cares about.

Everyone likes to be first. Set up an internal contest to reward employees who create content. The contest can reward employees that blog the most frequently or those that produce the highest amount of traffic. Either way, marketers and content curators will win.

Work Completed for Clients
In the business world we send clients a lot of information. Whether its drawings for a building, information about your product, website copy or proposal responses. A lot of thought and effort goes into creating this material. Content producers should take advantage of this work and repurpose it for external marketing purposes. It’s relatively easy to take a question from an RFP and transform it into a blog post. Share that great insight with the world!

In general, content producers should take advantage of every opportunity to repurpose information. It saves time and is a great way to generate content that your audience will care about.

Friday, March 28, 2014

[INFOGRAPHIC] The Commandments of Content Marketing

Content is king when it comes to online marketing strategies. By producing content that is relevant, interesting and valuable to your audience, you can drive traffic and improve your ranking in search results. Here are five types of content that you can start producing today to bolster your content marketing strategy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The 5 Commandments of Interesting Content

Many businesses are using search engine optimization and content marketing to drive traffic to their websites. Good, relevant and interesting content is what fuels an online marketing approach. So, what is the best formula for creating interesting content? Follow these 5 commandments to find out.
  • Use numbers – Blogs that feature a list are more clickable because they carry a clear and concise message (notice the title of this post?). Readers know exactly what they are getting when they click your post. Hopefully, that helps them retain the information you presented.
  • K.I.S.S. – My soccer coach lived by this motto: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Attention spans are short and your blog posts should be too. Try and keep it under 300 words.
  • Be opinionated – When you write a blog, take a stance and be bold. Readers should be able to ascertain the purpose for your post in the first few sentences. This also makes your blogs more interesting because, let’s be honest, no one wants to read something that seems restrained.
  • Your message should be clear – Your first sentence should answer, “Why?” as in, why am I reading this. Readers should be able to identify the purpose of your post in your first or second sentence.
  • If you can’t be the first, be the best at being the opposite - Create content that stands out and has its own unique voice. It’s good to follow best practices, but make sure that your blog and your content is unique and distinct. It’s okay to break a few rules.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Paradox Between Ideas and Leadership

Ideas are cheap.

They are easy to conjure-up and often times ignore realities and elements that affect the implementation of the idea. It’s easy to sit around and high-five your friends when a great idea crosses your mind, but how do you execute it. It’s no good to merely take credit for an idea and then do nothing to make it a reality.

I believe in execution. The execution of an idea – the culmination of details, project management and logistics – should be rewarded and recognized.

However, a paradox exists between ideas and leadership.

Oftentimes, great leaders are characterized as being “visionary.” I don’t necessarily agree. They aren’t a good leader because they sit in the shower all day and come up with brilliant ideas, they are a good leader because they take charge and make things happen.

This paradox also exists in the way most businesses function. As a young professional, this is a contradiction that can be all too real.

The leadership of an organization enacts a strategy, but relies on other people to execute. These rank-and-file employees are tasked with executing an idea that they didn’t come up with. However, it is generally recognized that a crucial step to advancing up the corporate ladder requires being an idea person. How can employees be an “idea person” when all of their time is spent executing someone else’s idea?

How can we bridge this gap to give employees the opportunity to grow?

I think the answer starts with empowering people to make their own decisions. They should be allowed to implement new ideas with resources and the support of a team.

I recently heard General Stan McChrystal speak. One of his most resounding comments was on the need for Team-based leadership. McChrystal was the commander for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Early in the war, McChrystal had to approve every bombing raid that JSOC undertook. Realizing the inefficient nature of this process, he changed protocol to allow his commanders to make that decision on their own. He trusted the people he put in places of leadership and empowered them to make decisions. As a result, bombing raids became much more efficient and successful.

I think this is how businesses can successfully leverage the strengths of young people in their organizations. They need to be empowered to execute their ideas and make decisions. Similarly, we need to be challenged to gauge the impact of our decisions, so we can quantify the value of our efforts and learn from our mistakes.

Empowering young professionals and giving them the opportunity to act on their ideas is the best way to erase the current paradox that exists between ideas and leadership.