Where Are Your New Leaders?

I read a sobering (for me because I hit double nickels earlier this year!) article in the New York Times magazine this weekend. CLICK HERE TO READ  The article highlights the fact that many of our biggest innovations come from young people who can bring unfettered focus to their field, generating new platforms for economic growth.

It got me thinking about communities and regions where we work and just what their “kids” might be up to ………….

Every community in the USA prides itself on corporate involvement, engagement and “civic entrepreneurship”, and conversely laments their struggle to identify, nurture and develop leaders of the future.    So it is both revealing and thought provoking when a major metro can point to not one but two highly engaged young leaders who are taking a significant leadership role in building a better future for their region.  Las Vegas is just such a community.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos has decided downtown Vegas needs a “shot in the arm” ……  my words, not his.  He would probably say a “hit of Red Bull” but the point is rather than talking about it he is investing $350 million of his own money in the revitalization of downtown Vegas, truly leading by example.  But this isn’t any revitalization.  When complete, it will be a true haven for entrepreneurs and city dwellers alike, creating a fully integrated techno village like no other in the country, perhaps even the world.

Then, just a few miles to the south, Rob Roy, Founder and CEO of Switch has created one of the coolest technology incubators I have ever seen and here’s the really neat thing — it’s all with private money.  Moreover, it’s a genuine partnership with senior level presence on site from the business community through the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, The Las Vegas Chamber, UNLV, the State of Nevada, and Congressional representation.  While we all preach collaboration, this is collaboration on steroids.  Oh yes, Switch is not just any company ……….  if you are not aware of them, just know that without them the internet just might stop running!

The combined impact of these projects is north and south “bookends” for Las Vegas that will provide both a foundation for future growth, but also the “backbone” of Vegas future well into the 22nd century. But what’s more impressive to me is that both Roy and Hsieh are fully committed to and fully supportive of the others initiative.  Moreover, their laser like commitment to their respective pillars of Vegas’ future doesn’t mean they have forgotten what else is happening in their hometown.  Both are on the Wall of Honor at the less than two years old $450 million world class performing arts center.

Because of these two civically committed, engaged, incredibly intelligent, creative, forward thinking young leaders, Las Vegas is projecting itself into the global landscape like few other regions.  Oh yes, you know that thing about “new, young corporate leaders aren’t as engaged as their predecessors”?  Not in Vegas!  Combined age of these two:  81!  It begs the question:  what’s Vegas doing to grow/attract/nurture these young leaders?

So many communities are struggling with how to develop that “new generation” of committed civic leaders.  Vegas is blessed with two that clearly “get it”.  If you don’t know about these projects, take a look at the following links to learn more:  Take a trip to Vegas and instead of cabbing it in to the Strip, check in with the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, which is housed in Switch’s InNEVation Center or go downtown to see what is happening with the Downtown Project.  There is no doubt Vegas has its fair share of challenges, not the least of which is convincing global business leaders that Vegas is more than a place to go and have fun.  But the future is bright with leaders like Tony Hsieh and Rob Roy leading them into the future.

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