Tonight Blake and I had the privilege of attending a networking event featuring the Mayor of Greenville, Knox White, as the speaker. If you don’t know anything about Greenville let me introduce you! I’ve lived in the area for about two and a half years and I adore everything about this city (yes, even Woodruff Road I consider a close “frenemy”). It’s the kind of city that pulls you in with its southern charm, entertains you in such a way that makes you feel important, and speaks to your soul in a way that only a long bike ride along the Reedy River can. This city will wrap you up and make you feel like you belong in a seemingly effortless manner. Tonight we were offered a glimpse into the genius of Greenville’s transformation. White, Mayor since 1995, has spearheaded many of Greenville’s famous projects. (Falls Park, Fluor Field, Poinsett Hotel restoration to name a few big ones)
His audience tonight was young professionals of Greenville, specifically lawyers, bankers, and CPAs. (Some crowd we must have been, haha). He talked about how our generation is a “mobile” generation for two reasons. First off, our generation is picking up and just moving from home unlike any other generation. Secondly, our generation career hops unlike the world has ever seen before. For the most part this earns us a bad rap for seeming disloyal. Greenville embraces this movement. Knox said the tides have shifted and now successful cities are chasing people, not companies. Instead of just grasping at any company to set up camp in Greenville they care more about who works for that company. What kind of people do they hire? Will these people leave that company and create a new start up in Greenville? Greenville works because we work.
Another thing he said that stuck with me was the most important thing to know if you are wanting to get involved in Greenville is that Greenville wants you. That’s a neat way of putting it. Usually it is presented that we really ought to get involved or you really should do something for your city. Something as simple as turning that around a bit and presenting it as though Greenville likes you and what you do and they want to be friends with you. People like to be liked and what’s better than being liked and wanted by your city?
Lastly he said you have to be authentic. Several years back Greenville put together a “main attraction” committee. Their job was to brain storm things that could bring people to Greenville. A couple of the ideas tossed around were a giant Ferris wheel and “the Greenville Aquarium”. Knox talked about how those things probably wouldn’t have been successful because they aren’t original or authentic. I am glad they didn’t go in those directions. Greenville is what makes Greenville, well, Greenville. There’s no other way to put it. This city will remind you of a lot of places you have been but I bet you won’t find another like it!
I think that all of his thoughts can, and should, be applied to most things in our lives. Go after the people, not the things. Be flexible. Believe in the next generation. Let your people know they are all an important piece of the puzzle. Be authentic.
Yes, I was that girl that asked to take a photo. Yes, I did instagram it. I am THAT generation.