What does it look like when tens of thousands of young professionals mobilize around a city’s common vision? Just look at Milwaukee.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the value of cross sector, cross industry networking as a part of the Generation Now Leadership Visit. The trip brought over 50 emerging and current leaders from across sectors and industries to Milwaukee for a three-day networking trip.
An epiphany for many of the delegates was Milwaukee’s united front in communicating and exercising a common vision to recruit and retain talent. A colleague said it was like Milwaukee’s mayor looked at the agenda and then went around and whispered to each of the speakers, “here are the talking points on Milwaukee.”
Milwaukee was in tough economic shape and then the recession hit. Community members mobilized to avoid turning into a Detroit. A catalyst for collaborative efforts is the Greater Milwaukee Committee, a long established cross-sector, cross-industry organization with the mission to “make Greater Milwaukee the best place to live, learn, work and play.” The city is working to change from the poorly viewed Rust Belt to the reinvented Fresh Coast by promoting opportunities in industry, arts and culture, green communities and beer.
Most of us aren’t referring to a Fresh Coast when we think of Milwaukee, but messaging is consistent and the city is successfully working to attract new talent. Recruitment efforts discussed via Greater Milwaukee Committee include Teachtown to creatively attract and retain teaching talent and an annual 10-day Flying Car event attracting 1,000s of emerging and established leaders to highlight innovation in Milwaukee through a variety of events and competitions.
Minneapolis-Saint Paul is not in economic turmoil, but we do have an identity crisis. Delegates asked our counterparts in Milwaukee to tell us about the Twin Cities and they skeptically talked about biking, music and breweries in Minneapolis and didn’t mention Saint Paul. MSP must be mindful of its perception and leverage diverse assets in order to successfully attract and retain new talent.
One solution to setting forth a positive image of MSP outside of Minnesota is through collaboration among the many, many young professional groups - each its own cylinder of excellence. Milwaukee does this well through Newaukee which has 40,000 young professional members and counting.
Newaukee’s philosophy is that if the organization provides a venue to promote Milwaukee and members share their experience on social media and by word of mouth, they export the city’s identity as well as attract and retain talent. To do this, the majority of the organization’s events promote community, cause and collaboration. The organization prioritizes meeting in communities that could use more exposure (think the Green Line), promote a cause and collaborate across sector and industry.
Newaukee’s events are also creative. Our tour with Newaukee included riding around on a school bus with beer, visiting an underwear bike rally and seeing the sun set over the city from a small state park with a family of fox on Lake Michigan (it is a miracle everyone returned to MSP!).
Newaukee is only four years old and wildly successful. MSP could benefit by having a united front in communicating and exercising a common vision. As young professionals we can work together to shape and leverage that vision. One venue is through Minnesota Rising, “a network of emerging leaders in Minnesota. Minnesota Rising works to build relationships, trust, and a shared vision for Minnesota, and focuses on developing the collective capacity of this generation for impacting Minnesota’s future.”
To be a part of young professional cross-collaboration, consider registering for Minnesota Rising’s Un/Conference: Cultivating Capacity for Collective Leadership on November 16th where YNPN-TC is a Network Partner. If you do, join an interactive breakout session facilitated by Generation Now Leadership Visit delegates to help transfer lessons learned from the trip to actionable items in MSP. Together, across sectors, industries and young professional groups, we will build upon and promote a strong MSP.
How can we as young professionals work together across our various roles to promote MSP?
GNLV would not have been possible without the generous support of the Bush Foundation, Knight Foundation, Carlson, Comcast, Greater MSP, Saint Paul Port Authority, US Bank, Urban Land Institute, Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce and MinnPost. Thank you!