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February 4, 2020

It’s that time of year again when college applications and acceptances start rolling in.  The most astute students now realize how much institutions— particularly those handing out scholarships —  value a complete picture of each candidate.  Grades rarely tell the whole story.  At this point, things like extra curricular activities really matter.

Think back to the close of your high school career (without sharing how many years have passed!).  Perhaps you served as class president, an active member of key club, debate team, or even the Matheletes. What did your non-academic pursuits reveal about your likelihood of success? 

For me, my status as a music major at a performing arts high school meant all activities revolved around one thing — music. However, by the time college rolled around, Toastmasters and Model United Nations occupied my somewhat limited spare time.  However, what I remember fondly is that each club had a clear mission and focus. My favourite — Model UN’s “think globally, act locally. “

As innovation leaders, we too, see that fulfilling our organizational (and personal) mission requires going outside the four corners of execution.  Quite often, our mission in practice exists separately from or as an extension of the products or services we offer to the world.

Inspired by this call to action, this week were wondering how to not only think and learn, but also act more locally.

While world domination sits at the top of most to-do lists and annual goals, our home communities offer an equal measure of value -driven impact and challenge.  Here’s a few suggestions of how your organization can leverage its local:

Beyond Government Relations

Urban Innovation scholar, Molly Turner’s recent City Lab article suggests that when evaluating startups and technology companies for investment, include an assessment of the breadth of their civic engagement.  She suggests five Urban Tech Table Stakes as primary indicators to consider: (1) neighbourhood group membership, (2) public meeting attendance, (3) subscription to local news, (4) knowing city representative, and (5) organizational voting rates.

This week at the #ThursdayGathering, our friends at Reimagine Local News and the Miami Today are asking what we think about the future of local news.  (check out their survey).  As an avid reader, local news support stands out as an important, yet overlooked pipeline to authentic community engagement.  Publications like Community Newspapers, New Tropic, the Miami Times, the Heralds, and of course, the satirical favorite, the Plantain, all cover what matters most in the 305.  How does your team stay civically active?


The name says it all.  There are a select set of services and in-person experiences that we will never export — the cobbler who makes your shoes good as new, the donuts that are to die for but don’t always travel well, and pretty much every restaurant on your regular rotation.  It’s not surprising then that Miami-Dade County by itself ranks 4th in the US according to the number of small businesses and has the highest small business concentration (81.3 %) in the region totaling 82,000+ that employ 53.3% percent of the workforce.

That’s why platforms like SupportLocal make it easier to uncover the local gems — shipping and handling excluded. Similarly, at VCM, we’re passionate about activating and supporting the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and thus understand the significant impact that small businesses have on our local economy… You may have heard the recent news about VCM”s new initiative, Passport, powered by Knight Foundation, which will double down on support for mainstream entrepreneurs.    What’s your favourite local business? Why?

Arts Magnet

In addition to being great charitable contribution partners, arts and cultural institutions provide a snapshot of mission in practice.  That’s because they typically attract the power trifecta of who’s who in corporate, philanthropy and public stakeholders.  What’s more, board service and patronage offer a unique opportunity for local learning 101 experiences, like curated Art Basel moments, Commissioner art collector training, or intimate Books & Books author talks.

These pillars of culture help shape the narrative and reputation of a City, which should matter to fast growing company who seek to recruit top talent to the region.   For example, New World Symphony’s iconic WALLCAST concerts have inspired new forms of classical music enjoyment across the globe.  Additionally, PAMM’s upcoming Art + Soul celebration will feature the latest acquisitions into it’s Fund for African American Art thereby repositioning Miami as hub for multicultural art.

In light of the foregoing, the following question is not designed to cause division, instead it ought to be an essential question for your team: name your favorite local arts and cultural institution? when is the next show?


Leigh-Ann / Venture Cafe Miami

(P.S. if you want to attend the 2/15 Art + Soul Celebration featuring grammy- nominated, Tank and the Bangas, use the special code LBUCHANAN2020 to grab your tickets!)

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