Posted tagged ‘ULI’

Main Street Columbia? Why on Earth…?

May 17, 2010

Public and private investment aiming to rejuvenate Main Street has been significant and sustained for years.  For the record, I am pro-Columbia, so, when business took me to the Columbia area last Wednesday, I took advantage of the opportunity to attend an event titled, “Why Are You Here?”

The event, promoted (and organized?) by the state chapter of the Urban Land Institute, explored the question of Main Street’s identity as a fine and performing arts destination.  The impending relocation of the state’s non-profit cinema, the Nickelodeon, to a once-and-future theater very near the Columbia Museum of Art spurred the discussion. (Click here to see the project.)

The event at the former Fox Theatre was poorly attended, but the enthusiasm of speaking panelists representing the arts was not dampened.  The panel discussed topics ranging from Columbia’s status as a music scene to the attraction of Main Street as a place to set up shop. 

The panelists noted that Columbia is a “tertiary” market for cutting-edge music tours.  Among the reasons: events in Columbia do not draw because the city has no critical mass of nightlife and entertainment venues.  Instead, the city is pegged to draw for popular country music acts and has-beens.  (The exception: innovative jazz.  Go figure.)

Business owners noted Main Street’s unique environment as a reason to invest in the location.  They defended their decision in that their distinctive businesses (exclusive eyewear, acoustic music) necessitate distinctive destinations.  For them, Main Street’s mix of historic buildings and high-rises stands apart – a unique place. 

Recognition of Main Street Columbia as a destination throughout the broader community has been a question mark for at least a couple decades.  Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the city does not seem to have an identity as a strong music scene, with a place on the calendar for innovative acts.  If the metropolitan area’s center is not a destination for its own citizens, how can one expect it to be so for outsiders?

But what of the jazz scene on South Main?  The role of Five Points for nightlife, driven by the college crowd, is long-established. Panelists, moreover, noted the Vista’s niche as a visual arts destination (notably, with some adversarial consternation).  Perhaps Main Street can be the missing link that ties the various districts together, each with a distinct role.  Some leadership seems to exist: staff of the City Center Partnership was in attendance.  One speaker noted the recent election of a forward-thinking mayor (Steve Benjamin).  Their challenge: to reform the image of South Carolina’s capital city as a place and a destination.

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“Leadership in Tough Times”

April 5, 2010

Myriad volumes of text have been written about leadership. I received this in an e-mail from Rodney Hall of the Talon Group. I have no affiliation with Mr. Hall except that I’m on his distribution list. Hall credits a ULI discussion for his content. I found this brief insight straightforward and unpretentious and advice most of us can put to work right away.

Leadership in Tough Times

The burden of the economic recovery extends beyond unemployment statistics, business failures and the erratic financial markets. It forces us to modify our behavior on several fronts, personally and professionally. How it impacts the leadership role was a topic of discussion at a recent ULI meeting. Here are the highlights:

Communicate- more often!

  • It’s not enough to simply communicate with your team- for maximum effectiveness it must occur frequently. This goes a long way to curbing speculation and helping team members stay focused.
  • Withholding relevant information leads to speculation, rumors and hearsay. If bad news lands on the doorstep, better to share it than not.
  • Share only what needs to be shared; don’t over-inform. People deserve to hear the truth, but not beyond the facts that pertain to them.
  • Take internal audits to gauge team members’ state of mind: what are they feeling, what are their needs, what can you do to support them?
  • Tip: It’s perfectly fine to not have answers to every question or comment; listening is the first step to being an effective leader (and probably the most difficult for people in leadership!)

Model the Right Behavior

  • You don’t have to be the first to arrive and the last to leave every day, just make sure you’re not a LIFO- Last in, First out.
  • Do more than is required and not just in your area of responsibility. Pitching in to help others- above or below your rank- is the at the heart of servant leadership.
  • Remember, nothing kills morale more than a leader labeled as “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Engage the Team

  • The ability to adapt to changing environments or market demands is critical to the success of any business. The same is true of the people on your team. Help them break free from the routine by encouraging feedback.
  • Step 1: make certain everyone understand the basics well and are pursuing those standards consistently. No need to try building on a weak foundation!
  • Step 2 : keep everyone focused daily on the “work at hand” or in Zen terms, “being in the moment”. This helps minimize distractions, gossip and needless speculation.
  • Step 3: ask for input, ideas and feedback then, actually try some of them. Celebrate the successes (loudly), no matter how small the impact. In times like these, your team needs every win it can get!

Source: The Talon Group
16801 Addison Road, Suite 410
Addison, TX 75093