Writer’s Block


As the deadline for this issue rapidly approached, I found myself with an acute case of writer’s block when it came to this column. Panic was about to ensue. (And trust me, panic only tightens the grip and prevents any useful thoughts from getting through). So, on the eve of the deadline, I decided to just let go of the chaos in my mind, by going to the chaos of the KISS concert at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato.

I joked with a colleague as I headed out, “Maybe the KISS fellas will  have an epiphany for me!”

They did not disappoint.

No, I didn’t find inspiration in their lyrics, although I tried. But rock-n-rollin all night and partying every day really isn’t an option for me most days, but especially, I feel, on a Monday.

Instead, I took hold of a few words Mr. Paul Stanley said from a platform way above my head. His words raining down on me from on high.

“Mankato! Mankato, I know you are leaders, not followers!”

Yes, Mr. Stanley. Yes we are. It was very perceptive of him to pick up on that in his short time here, as I am certain he doesn’t just say that everywhere he goes. He totally gets our “vibe”!

The growth the greater Mankato area has experienced over the past decade is because of people here who lead. But it’s more how they lead that I would like to talk about. First, though, let’s take a quick look at some of the ways in which Southern Minnesota shows its leadership.

  • #3 in the nation for Best Small Places for Business and Careers (Forbes 2014)
  • #2 on list of Best Place in Minnesota for Young Families (North Mankato, nerdwallet.com, 2014)
  • #5 Best Small City in America (nerdwallet.com, 2015)
  • #9 Best Town to Raise a Family in Minnesota (Niche, 2015)
  • #3 in the Nation for Affordable Healthcare (livability.com, 2014)
  • #5 Safest Community in Minnesota (N. Mankato, movoto.com)
  • #8 in the Nation for Work-Life Balance, (nerdwallet.com)

Truly, the list of accolades goes on and on. For more visit www.greatermankato.com.

Through my various roles in the community, I have had the chance to talk to and get to know many of our leaders. One of the things I admire most is that the region is brimming with business men and women using the work they do for the greater good of the community, not just their bottom line. Folks who choose to lead by sharing what they know with others; people helping people, working together, collaborating. That means at times the leaders are also followers, learning all they can from their neighbors.

A thriving community is made up of people with varying skills, abilities, perspectives, and knowledge. Each person in a community has value. Each has a role to fill. Much like, I would imagine, a rock show.

Sure, you have the performers that everyone sees. But for every one of them you have a multitude more behind the scenes. Those who handle equipment, lighting, the soundboard, and those who make sure the stage is safe. Just to name a few. Everyone has a role to play. And I have feeling if one of those areas needed help, someone would pitch in so the show can go on.

Just like we do here. The stories in Connect Business Magazine are examples of how business leaders succeed by working together. And lead by getting input from all those with a vested interest.

An example of that is happening in Fairmont. Community leaders coming together to figure out what is needed in Fairmont to attract business and talent, and how to address those needs. It’s a truly grassroots effort that is counting on those already working in the community to step up. Using talent already in place there, to attract new.

For instance, the Fairmont Area Chamber and members of the Speakers Bureau are inviting organizations and individuals to speak to local groups. Areas of interest identified include: personal finance, workplace/school violence, mental health, integration and diversity, employee engagement and retention, and entrepreneurship.

The Speaker Series is funded through a Blandin grant, 4that has identified certain goals: to help make Fairmont a highly competitive community, to provide high quality instruction to our area professionals and citizens, to stimulate discussion and involvement on important community issues, to improve Fairmont’s quality of life through community education, and to create a coordinated series that makes Fairmont a better place.

The city is already off to a good start. According to the Fairmont Area Life website, Fairmont has landed on the top of some prominent lists.

  • Ranked 10th in towns that take the least of your money
  • Ranked 13th in best places to start a business in Minnesota
  • Ranked 39th best town to raise a family in Minnesota

So, I had to go to a rock concert to gain some clarity for this column. But as I think about it, I realize this certainly isn’t the first time a rock star’s words have given me direction.

Mick Jaggar once told me you can’t always get what you want, but if you really try you can get what you need.

I take to heart the words of Robert Plant who tells us there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run there’s still time to change the road you are on.

I have no clue what next issue’s column will be about just yet, but I’m not going to panic. As I’ve always heard the very wise Bob Dylan say; the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.

Lisa Cownie

Lisa Cownie

Editor of Connect Business Magazine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *