Jump-Starting Rochester: The New Narrative Part 2

Posted by Bruce Peters

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In Part 1, I described my introduction to Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson’s book “Jump-Starting America” and most importantly, the designation of our Rochester Community as being #1 in having the potential to be the next great technology innovation hub.

I also described the need for our community to come together in “grassroots” ways to assist in the actualizing and sustaining that potential. I should add that this should not be a knock on our business or community leadership. Rather this is more about unlocking or unleashing the identified potential. 

As a student in the 1960’s I was drawn to the message of John Kennedy in his Inaugural Address.

'In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility--I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it--and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.'

Most often those cast in leadership roles make promises or commitments of what they will do. It’s as if by making these promises, somehow all of our anxieties and uncertainties of daily life will all magically go away.

When I read Jump-Starting America, among my reactions was the thought that the authors had given a wonderful gift to our community. We don’t need a branding study or to spend a lot of time researching who we are. Isn’t #1 a good place to start?

Now that said, having the potential and ingredients to be # 1, although wonderful to recognize , is not the same as actually being #1. It’s a bit like telling your 12-year old they have the potential to be the best at anything they choose to be. Possibilities can be wonderful, yet can by their multiples actually be immobilizing. There are a myriad of Ted talks on the limitations of too many choices.

After reading Jump-Starting America, and speaking with the author’s, I was reminded that several years ago my wife and I had the opportunity to co-lead a program in the Rochester Jewish Community titled “Koreh Rochester.”  Koreh in Hebrew  is translated to “read” in English.  In this case the program was titled "Rochester Reads"Briefly we assisted in creating reading groups, or circles, to read one book, Home to Stay, by Daniel Gordis. We formed the first circle of 12, and asked each participant to form another circle and so forth. It doesn't take a math wizard to realize the potential impact if you do the math 12x12x12.. We're not certain of the exact number of readers. What we do know is that six months into the program we brought the author to town to a packed house gathering of readers/friends.

How cool would it be if we got bunches of your friends, neighbors, and colleagues to read Jump-Starting America and created conversations over the dinner table, or coffee place, indeed your reading circle in our community regarding

  • Who do we choose to be as our version of #1?
  • What is the new narrative or story we’re going to tell about our community?
  • What role will you play in that story or narrative you are uniquely born to be?

As my mentor Lee Thayer reminds, “talk doesn’t cook rice.” What to do?

In an effort to advance the cause, we’ve created a community site that includes some online tools for bringing us together, creating circles as a community. Please consider joining us.

Better yet join us and start your own JSR  Reading Conversation Circle.

As for the role I personally would like to play, I  am going to re-launch our radio show podcast under the rubric of Jump-Starting Rochester ( Podcast/Radio). Some of you may remember  www.wceohq-radio.org. Stay tuned for the announcement and details of the relaunch (New Narrative Part III) On March 13th. 

Lastly, I’ve spoken to bunches of people about this concept. And grateful for each and every one of these conversations. What I often hear back is along the lines of,

"My plate is already full".

"I’ve been involved in so many initiatives already…. Some successful, some less so."

Occasionally, "What’s in it for me?", either implicitly or sometimes explicitly.

If you can’t find a reason to get involved don’t bother. However, if you can find a way to bring your incredible gifts to the cause of actualizing our potential, your family and community will benefit and I will be personally grateful. Can we all answer the challenge of JFK as to "what we can do for our country" right here, right now in our community. 

What will the new narrative be? What role will you play? Who will come along? 

Stay tuned for New Narrative Part III "I have a dream" and , Jump-Starting Rochester Podcast/Radio details. 

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Topics: Beyond Teal, jump-starting Rochester

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