Now that I've been back from the National Main Streets Conference for about a week and a half, I've started to reflect on the trip. Did I enjoy the trip? Hey, I was in New Orleans - of course I enjoyed the trip! More importantly, did I learn anything? Absolutely! Having attended 15+ national conferences so far, I think I have a pretty good idea what I hope to get out of the conference each time and New Orleans certainly did not disappoint. I typically have two goals - recharge my Main Street batteries and get my brain spinning with new ideas. The recharging is easy. If you can't get excited about what we do after spending 4 days with Main Streeters from across the country, you might be in the wrong business. But getting my brain moving, that takes a bit more effort. This was also a very different conference for me because of a few other distractions that we'll get to shortly. So back to the big question, what did I learn?
Main Street Is Forever
It's easy to say, but you really have to believe it. I had the pleasure of presenting a session at this year's conference, "Secrets of a Main Street Manager". Different from my sessions in the past, I decided rather than focusing on best practices and giving lots of ideas to R & D, instead I would switch things up and talk about something that I know many of my fellow managers struggle with all the time - how to keep going. While I'm sure that most of you know what an incredibly "glamorous" job Main Street Managers have, sometimes you have those days, those people, those projects that make you ask yourself a very dangerous question, "Why Am I Doing This?" Indeed, while most people in your community would never guess, self-doubt is something we all engage in on a regular basis. While I've been told that I have confidence to spare when it comes to my job (actually, I think the word was cocky), I always worry that my greatest fear might come true and that I will become irrelevant. They say that admitting your fear is part of the solution, so I guess that's why I'm always attending conferences, volunteering for new projects and writing this blog. I'm not just trying to stay relevant, but continuing to create relevancy for our entire Main Street Movement in my own little way.
Awards Don't Suck
Michigan Main Street Peeps Rock
For anyone who attended the Closing Session, you got a sneak peek of what awaits you in 2014 in Detroit. For those who didn't, imagine the lights going out and a hush falling over the crowd as the Opportunity Detroit Spot from the World Series hits the screen. With Kid Rock's Bawitdaba playing in the background, it is immediately clear that 2014 in Detroit will be like no other conference you've attended. Then Kid Rock's Detroit, Michigan hits the speakers and dozens of Michigan Main Streeters hit the crowd, passing out Faygo pop and Detroit 2014 conference swag. The crowd got so pumped up that a spontaneous dance party broke out!
Many cities host the conference to show off their successes. What's amazing about Detroit is that while we will be showcasing our successes and true soul of our city, we absolutely exemplify the theme of the conference, "Works In Progress". Detroit has so much to be proud of and there are good people making amazing things happen every day. To me, that is what Main Street is all about and why we do what we do. I truly believe that Detroit 2014 is the conference people will talk about for years to come.
See you The D in 2014!
The Downtown Geek