I was walking through town this morning and I have to say – what a great spirit of ‘fight back from descent’ there is. Hard working people who care about their City. In an age of doom and gloom we should pay as much time focusing on the positives, and what I saw this morning was exactly that – Albert Square was buzzing with activity and preparation. The posters in the windows and the people giving up their time, effort and energy to do stuff are a great antidote to the bunch of hooligans who want something for nothing.
The reality is hard graft always wins out in the end. I am particularly impressed by those retailers who have had their windows kicked, premises vandalized along with stock damaged or stolen and have quickly dusted themselves down and cranked up the till quickly.
As we have seen in Manchester on two occasions, adversity always brings out the best in the City; the bombings being the catalyst for the fantastic centre we now have, and the riots having brought people together to make a clear commitment that such non sense will not be tolerated. Who knows this could just be the catalyst for a block busting global business from Manchester City Centre…
I had the great pleasure of going to Downtown’s Liverpool in Business Awards on Thursday night, it was a great do. As usual I did my observation bit and tried to get under the skin of the key messages of the evening. Had the opportunity to talk to successful business people and politicians and listened to several speeches – what was my conclusion? A bunch of people who have a love and passion almost to obsession for their City. Other cities talk about “Family” but to me its nothing but rhetoric. Esther McVey, and Max Steinberg set the scene with an update of whats happening in Liverpool but what really engaged me was Joe Anderson leader of Liverpool City Council. A man of who spoke from the heart and with bags of forward thinking. More specifically he focused on what they are going to do, not what they were thinking of doing. His enthusiasm for enterprise and entrepreneurship is reflected in the fact that Liverpool is hosting the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (Kauffman Foundation) – a big tick in the box for enterprise in my view.
There is something about Liverpool that I just can’t put my finger on, an invisible force a bit like the wind you cant see it but you know it’s there. Without doubt there is a stronger sense of community than in any other city I visit. (The story of how the Cathedral was built is brilliant – donations from residents). The underlying spirit manifests into a mindset conditioned to think big, move forward, stop living in the past and make it happen. As I said in previous blogs, cities and the general economy need mavericks, individuals who want to build momentum. They set out on a journey to change things for the greater good, not just for themselves. I saw loads of it the other night. Pity I had to get up at 4.30 Friday morning to drive South or it would have been an even better do!
This post follows on from blogs I have written over the past few weeks. Mavericks are passionate, focused, determined and often a bit off the wall; they are catalysts for change in politics, business and society in general. Mavericks exhibit extremely strong views and challenge opponents with an intensity that cuts like a laser beam. They remain strong to their views never waver in the face of adversity – they live by the principle of when the going gets tough the tough get going. Embedded deep within their psyche is the need for justice, truth and change for the better. They must accomplish their mission because its means so much to them.
One of the best accounts of Maverick behaviour I have come across is that of Pedro Zaragoza Orts, the Mayor of Benidorm from 1950 to 1967. He transformed it from a quiet fishing village to a magnet for tourists, it has become one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe and the basis of an award-winning Granada TV programme.
Zaragoza, sold the idea of economic transformation to the late dictator General Franco, one that would lead to allowing bikinis on the beaches! Even in the face of excommunication from the Pope he helped to make the place attractive to millions of foreign tourists who took package holidays to Benidorm. The resort changed forever, from a small village of 1,700 to a bustling holiday city today of 70,000. This happened because Zaragoza did not want to see his fellow citizens suffer in the challenge of economic decline. What an achievement – an individual who was in absolute service of his community.
I want to see more of this character in my beloved Manchester, because it’s lacking, ambassadors such as Sir Howard Bernstein. In my view he has done a brilliant job in changing the economic fortunes of the City. We need more of the same, individuals who are on a mission to change for the better and the greater good – not for their own personal gain or profile. Time for change in Manchester!
Regional economies are built on big personalities and individuals with the passion and determination to succeed. Tony Wilson in my book was a hero. He made a significant contribution to Manchester and the North, his enthusiasm for music, culture, regeneration and business in general was amazing. His personal brand became synonymous with promoting the Regions business interests. He did things for the right reason, the greater good of the people who made this place their home. He made a massive difference in many ways leaving a legacy that many of us can only dream of.
He put Manchester on the world stage and contributed to its brand and profile. Others have tried to follow but without the same impact – probably because they have their own interests at heart, namely celebrity status and not making it a better place for the next generation of stars.
The challenging economic environment I hope will see the emergence of a new generation of individuals with the same passion and determination of Tony Wilson.