But For Leadership Florida…

Leadership Florida builds statewide community.

We spent the weekend at the annual meeting of Leadership Florida in Orlando.
We’ve attended every annual meeting since I graduated from the program 15 years ago.
Its a mental boost that comes at a time of the year when I’m looking for a reboot.
Leadership Florida is a statewide program that gathers, trains, educates and then nurtures leaders from all walks of life. There are programs for emerging leaders ages 25-40, educators, executives, elected officials and a general class program that always includes a wide mix of people from all parts of our state.
It’s extremely competitive to get in the program and members tend to become very invested and loyal to the organization.
Why?
Because Leadership Florida is transformational and the annual meetings are fun and educational.
We’ve hosted some amazing minds through the years: Tom Brokaw, Colin Powell, Ken Burns, Geoffrey Canada, Jon Meacham and more.
This year we heard from conservative icon Arthur C. Brooks, former U. S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, early childhood advocate and retired journalist Dave Lawrence Jr., “Homeless to Harvard” author Liz Murray, best-selling author Brad Meltzer, social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson, Chief Disney Veterinarian Mark Penning and provocative demographer Ken Gronbach.
As usual, the takeaways were powerful.
Secretary Duncan outlined five national goals for education to consider: the U.S should lead the world in access to Pre-K (currently we hover between 28th and 30th), raise the high school graduation rate to 90 percent; commit that 100 percent of our high school graduates are ready for university classes. We currently spend $9 billion a year on remedial education; raise college completion rates and commit to retrain every worker whose job becomes obsolete.

Mr. Stevenson, whose life is soon to become a movie (and who has an HBO documentary debuting this week)  urged us to get “proximate” to the people in our communities who need us most. Proximity allows us to better understand the issues, strengths and challenges in our communities. Who can argue with that?

Mr. Meltzer talked about heroes and urged us to thank the heroes in our lives, sharing special stories about President George H. W. Bush and his 9th grade teacher Mrs. Spicer who said three words to Brad that changed his life: “you can write. “
And Ms. Murray, whose life was a Lifetime movie, told us how her experiences on the streets forged her character and made her strong.
Powerful stuff.
These kinds of weekends inspire and fuel us as citizens, volunteers and leaders in our communities.
These special people push us to think, read, study and ultimately act.
If you are a leader, I urge you to apply to one of Leadership Florida’s programs. The experience is a game changer and it’s a gift that keeps giving. Because each year, we get to gather with now more than 1,000 leaders from all over this great state and learn from each other and from our guest speakers.
We come back restored, energized and committed to make our part of Florida a better place.
Visit http://www.leadershipflorida.org for more information.

Mayoral Trends

Mayors wrestle with everything from scooters to cannabis.

Every year, many— if not most— mayors give a “State of the City” address.

And each year, the National League of Cities studies what they’re saying and compiles the results into what they call a “State of The Cities” report (very creative).

The report ranks and discusses ten main topic areas that mayors are excited or worried about. It’s an interesting list and while economic development and infrastructure continue to be top priorities for cities, mayors are increasingly exhibiting leadership on newer issues—such as scooters, social media and marijuana.

Below is a list of the top 10 “movers” this year and some comments from a has-been who has been out of the game for 12 plus years.

Economic Development: Opportunity Zones

In 2019, 74 percent of  state of the city speeches gave significant coverage to economic development — meaning a mayor or city manager provided concrete details on a plan, impact or goal related to growing the local economy. Of the 74 percent, 17 percent talked about opportunity zones. While some mayors are discussing what opportunity zones are and how to take advantage of them, others are moving ahead with opportunity zone policies.

Comment: Economic development has always been a hot topic, but opportunity zones are new. I think the zones are great public policy, but the powers that be missed some obvious zones (Congress Avenue, downtown Lake Worth) while blessing some areas that are already blessed.

Infrastructure: Ridesharing

Cities are becoming “smarter”, with new mobility services such as “dockless” bikes, ride sharing and scooters emerging in communities across the country. Mayors are recognizing that if you want to ditch your car in favor of a bike to get to work, you should, and now you can in many cities, towns and villages across the nation.

Comment: We never heard or ridesharing, Uber or Lyft in my day. We did know about carpooling. And bike lanes were a huge topic back in the day.

Health & Human Services: Recreational Marijuana

Communities are approving marijuana use at bars and cafes (really) and are expecting to accrue large financial benefits. From tax receipts to the diminishment of unsafe underground economies, cities are prepared to capitalize on this newly-regulated industry. Coverage of the recreational marijuana subtopic increased from two speeches in 2018 to seven speeches in 2019, an increase of 250 percent. In 2019, 46 percent of speeches significantly covered health and human services, and 10 percent of those provided concrete details regarding recreational marijuana, ranging from changing zoning codes to filing lawsuits against cannabis regulation.

Comment: Not sure we saw the legalization movement coming in the early to mid -2000s. And we thought CBD stood for Central Business District.

Energy & Environment: Solar Power

Advancing solar power is one of the many steps that cities are taking to fight climate change. Local governments are fostering solar energy growth by supplying government buildings and traffic systems with solar energy, embracing community solar power initiatives and reducing the energy burden for low-income households.

Comment: LED lights were just emerging as an option and LEED was gaining popularity. But sea level rise wasn’t on the radar screen.

Budgets & Management: Intergovernmental Relations

Cities are continuing to voice their concerns about the relationship between local and upper levels of government, particularly state overreach and fiscal constraints.

Comment: Mayors have always feared Tallahassee and Washington too. Home rule has always been a hot topic and while we would have welcomed help, we were happy if we weren’t bulldozed by mandates and wacky policy.

 

Housing: Blight and Elimination

In recent years, cities have implemented blight elimination measures, which include rehabilitating or demolishing vacant and abandoned properties to revitalize and strengthen neighborhoods.

Comment: Always a popular topic and focus. We did fear the elimination of Community Development Block Grants which pay for neighborhood rehab projects etc.

Public Safety: Education and Initiatives

Across the United States, more local police and fire departments are engaging with residents to increase education and awareness on public safety issues, ultimately building community trust.

Comment: A perennial. We called it community oriented policing and civic engagement.

Demographics: Civic Engagement

Mayors have consistently encouraged residents to engage in civic activities and provided their constituents with important opportunities that can impact their city’s future. In 2019, some mayors also specifically discussed plans regarding the political participation process and municipal election reform.

Comment: We were there for the hanging chads and the 2000 election so….election integrity and voting were always important concerns. We also were big on visions, charrettes, neighborhood dinners, advisory board recognition, town halls and forming neighborhood associations.

Education: School Outcomes

Both in 2018 and 2019, mayors discussed plans to achieve higher high school graduation rates. In 2019, mayors also announced school programs designed to address issues affecting student performance, such as chronic absenteeism and childhood trauma.

Comment: Education was a huge concern and focus.

Government Data & Technology: Social Media

More local governments are using social media to address pertinent issues within their communities and increase communication with their residents.

Comment: Social media didn’t exist, we didn’t even have a consolidated website when I was first elected in 2000. Technology was on our minds, we wanted online bill pay etc., and added streaming coverage of meetings but it was a simpler time. If someone said 3G to us, we assumed they meant the deli on West Atlantic. P.S. 3G’s has great pastrami.

 

Western Stars

The songs tell the stories of loved lost, failure, hard living and longing. But somehow they are tinged with hope.

Bruce Springsteen released a new album last week and for me that’s always a reason to celebrate.

But this album, his 19th studio album, is something extra special for a few reasons.

First, it’s just really good.

The songs are beautifully crafted, the lyrics are packed with meaning and the album includes oboes, bassoons, French horns and other instruments rarely used on a Springsteen album. He’s evolving and I find that not only interesting but inspirational as well.

The reason this album has extra resonance is that it is being released three months before Bruce’s 70th birthday. That’s an age where most musicians are long past their prime and decades beyond their creative peak.

But there he is, still exploring, still pushing boundaries, still growing. And I find that awe-inspiring.

The best artists are those whose work seem to run parallel to our lives—as if they are somehow writing with us in mind. Of course, that’s not true, but the magic comes because their words and music remain relevant to where we are in life.

I’ve grown up with Bruce and now I’m growing old with him.

As a young rock fan growing up on Long Island in the 70s and 80s, you couldn’t avoid Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band. They were on the radio, the posters were on the windows of the record shops (remember those) and the music was played loud at every party we went too.

I was bitten hard by the Bruce bug in 1978. I was 14 when “Darkness on The Edge of Town” was released and I was smitten by hard driving songs about life, love and work, the open but often lonely road and America itself.

Once I discovered “Darkness” I backfilled my collection with his first three albums—all of them brilliant and meaningful—at least to me— a teenager trying to figure it all out.

But unlike most teenage obsessions, rock music and Springsteen would continue to be meaningful as I went off to college, started my career, had a family, suffered the loss of loved ones, went through a divorce, found new love, changed careers, got involved in civic life and then re-invented myself again.

Now as I grow older, the music continues to resonate, inform, entertain, move me and make me think.

The old songs still strike something deep inside and take on new meaning as I listen to them 40 years down the road as Bruce would say.

And the new music is a gift; a beautiful gift.

I’m excited that my favorite artist is still out there creating as he nears his 70th birthday, long past the sell-by date we are force fed by a youth-oriented society.

In two months, I will turn 55 an age when you start to understand that the sands are running through the hour glass very fast and that more sand is on the bottom of the glass than remains on top. Many of my friends are my age or older and I am starting to see them wrestle with health issues and thoughts of hanging them up.

 I get it and can relate.

But I still aspire.

Last week, I was in a meeting with a younger man–a friend— and the talked strayed briefly from business to life. He looked at me and said “you have about 20 years left to be productive.”

Lord, I hope so.

He meant what he said as a compliment. But as you age you realize that 20 years passes in the blink of an eye.

I can still remember being that young boy listening to that Springsteen record with the volume turned up in my room in Stony Brook, N.Y. playing air guitar and dreaming of “The Promised Land.”

And in a blink, you see your 50s flash by, your kids grow up and your friends grow old.

But Bruce Springsteen is still singing at 70, with no plans to quit and so he gives me hope that we all can keep going for years to come.

 

 

 

An Opportunity Awaits

Stability doesn’t have to mean boredom or a lack of imagination. It can mean that teams can dig in and succeed.

There’s been another rash of resignations at Delray Beach City Hall.

That’s not good news, despite the perfume put on the issue by some.

Turnover and instability in an organization is never a good thing. Of course, in a large organization people are always leaving and sometimes you have to get rid of a bad apple or two. It’s called addition by subtraction. But this feels different.

As of now Delray is searching for a city manager, an economic development director, a utilities director, a finance director, a public works director and a CRA Director. I might have missed a few positions. But that’s a pretty robust list. And that doesn’t include the resignations of the  two top senior officials in the Community Improvement who resigned last week in the wake of an investigation into alleged misappropriation of grant monies.
Folks, this isn’t normal. And it’s not good.

Still, like most problems/issues there’s a silver lining and an opportunity.
But only if we recognize the situation and make this a teachable moment. That’s going to require self awareness and that can be a challenge.
Delray has had a stability problem for a few years now. Before 2013 or s0, City Hall was known as a very stable place.

Not a perfect place. But a stable place. A place where lots of good things got done on behalf of taxpayers and stakeholders. It was also a prideful place, where people seemed to collaborate and work effectively across departments. Again, mistakes were made and things weren’t always a well-oiled machine but for the most part City Hall was a happy and productive workplace, the kind that attracted talent and retained it as well.

It doesn’t feel that way anymore.

And it hasn’t for a while now.

This isn’t a criticism of anyone or anything. For the record, I like the interim City Manager and respect a lot of people who work at City Hall. I wrote a whole book about what I felt worked and what didn’t during my seven years as a commissioner and mayor.

I learned that for a city to create and sustain success, you need solid leadership and talented, stable management that work well together. That’s not rocket science. but I don’t know of a workaround. You need both.

Instability breeds inefficiency.

It’s expensive on many levels and the loss of institutional memory is an added concern because when experience walks out the door so does a whole lot of intangible value.

Few would argue that stability is a bad thing.

It’s hard to build a team, organization, business or any other complex endeavor when your human capital is constantly in flight.

That doesn’t mean you allow bad actors to stay or that you don’t have a culture of accountability. But it does mean that if people are leaving in droves, that you might want to pay attention, especially if many who are leaving have had success here or elsewhere.
Did they suddenly become incompetent and ineffectual or is there something wrong that we can fix?

Without pointing fingers, I don’t think what we are seeing is an aberration or the normal course of business. Something fundamental is wrong.

And this should not be news to those of us who pay attention. Our leaders have been told by executive recruiters that the city has a challenging reputation in the marketplace.
Therein lies the opportunity.

Now is the time to ask some hard questions, make some changes and find out why what’s happening is happening. It’s also a chance to transform the culture and make this city the very best place to work.

Working —and just as important staying —in a city as unique and special as Delray ought to be a compelling proposition.

These days and for a few years now,  the evidence says something is up.
Perhaps it’s time to figure out what’s going on.

Because like any other business, cities are only as a good as their people.

If you attract good people and create conditions that enables that talent to thrive, you’ll have a smooth running machine and solve a lot of problems; but if you lose that talent or can’t even attract it. you’ll be spinning your wheels which is expensive and exhausting. You’ll end up in a costly spiral.

Human capital is everything. It just is.  It’s not technology–that’s a tool. And it’s not always wages and benefits, which are important but aren’t the only factors in a stable workplace.

A revolving door of senior level managers is not a recipe for lasting success; it’s a sunk cost.

 

Wisdom Amid The Pomp & Circumstance

Steve Jobs’ Stanford speech is considered a graduation classic.

Before we drift too far from graduation season, we wanted to share some of our favorite grad speech snippets.
We hope you enjoy and we wish our local graduates all the best in the years to come.

Steve Jobs Stanford 2005

“Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

J.K. Rowling, Harvard 2008

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me,” she said. “[R]ock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

 

Winston Churchill, 1941 Harrow School

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

 

Jeff Bezos, 2010, Princeton

“Tomorrow, in a very real sense, your life — the life you author from scratch on your own — begins.

How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?

Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?

Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?

Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?

Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?

Will you bluff it out when you’re wrong, or will you apologize?

Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?

Will you play it safe, or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?

When it’s tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?

Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?

Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?

I will hazard a prediction. When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.”

 

Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) Lake Shore College 1977 – a 75 second commencement address.

“My uncle ordered popovers

from the restaurant’s bill of fare.

And when they were served,

he regarded them

with a penetrating stare …

Then he spoke great Words of Wisdom

as he sat there on that chair:

“To eat these things,”

said my uncle,

“you must exercise great care.

You may swallow down what’s solid …

BUT …

you must spit out the air!”

 

And …

as you partake of the world’s bill of fare,

that’s darned good advice to follow.

Do a lot of spitting out the hot air.

And be careful what you swallow.”

 

Stephen Colbert, 2006 Knox College

“Cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or be disappointed in us. Cynics always say no … for as long as you have the strength to, say yes.”

 

Conan O’Brien, Harvard 2000

“I left the cocoon of Harvard, I left the cocoon of Saturday Night Live, I left the cocoon of the Simpsons. And each time it was bruising and tumultuous. And yet every failure was freeing, and today I’m as nostalgic for the bad as I am for the good. So that’s what I wish for all of you—the bad as well as the good. Fall down. Make a mess. Break something occasionally. Know that your mistakes are your own unique way of getting to where you need to be. And remember that the story is never over.”

Tim Cook, 2019 Tulane

“Don’t waste time on problems that have been solved. Don’t get hung up on what other people say is practical. Instead, steer your ship into the choppy seas. Look for the rough spots, the problems that seem too big, the complexities that other people are content to work around. It’s in those places that you will find your purpose. It’s there that you can make your greatest contribution.”

The Importance of Civility

 

“It is the willingness to listen. The thing I fear most is the absence of civility; I don’t fear the argument.” –Leon Botstein, President Bard College.

I saw that quote a few weeks back while on a business trip and it resonated with me because I think Mr. Botstein nailed so much of what’s wrong today.

I don’t think we are willing to listen anymore—certainly not to anyone that we disagree with. We seem to want to assign bad motives to those on the other side of an issue and make a beeline toward the yelling.

Like the President of Bard College, I fear the absence of civility because if we aren’t civil what’s left other than a spiral to violence?

We are at a precipice in America. And we best be careful. Because when you dance on a cliff you might find yourself slipping into an abyss that’s not so easy to climb out from.

So as I wandered the hallways of the Las Vegas Convention Center marveling at the elaborate exhibits at the International Council of Shopping Centers—the new retailers, the cutting edge technologies, the new and wildly creative food and beverage concepts and the dizzying array of deal making—I couldn’t help but feel both excited and worried.

On so many levels, the future looks bright.

The bar is being raised everywhere you look in business and technology.

Is it all good?

No.

We went to a local Walmart when I came home and we watched everyone struggle to scan their own items and I thought “you know I don’t work here, this isn’t efficient and where the heck is the cashier?”

But a lot is good….the plant based burgers that taste like the real thing, the marvelous places design is taking us, the amount of computing power we walk around with when we carry our cell phones and we always carry our phones don’t we?

But the worrisome part is the human part. How we relate to each other.

When we were in Vegas my hometown went to war—at least on Facebook– over a proposal by iPic to add a rooftop restaurant/bar to their new location in downtown Delray.

I can argue both sides of the issue and I see where both sides have some good points. So a good debate/argument would have been fine. One where we listen, one where we decide what’s best for Delray. But on social media that’s not how things play out.

While there were some good arguments articulated, there were a raft of disturbing comments as well.

In the spirit of Jimmy Kimmel’s “mean tweets” segment— in which celebrities read aloud comments made by online trolls—

I’ll share a few. With some commentary of course.

“It’s all about developers BUYING Commissioners!”

 (Comment: there’s no evidence of bribery and if there please alert the authorities.  iPic is not a developer and this is a tired argument used whenever someone proposes a project. I especially love it when someone who lives in a project that was protested when it was proposed makes this argument. I can’t help but think, if the commissioners of their day had listened, you might not live here.)

“I pic (sic) can go to hell in a handbag. They can’t cry over spilled milk. Bieng (sic) underhanded got them no where, and good! (Comment: the logic is almost bad as the syntax).

“So glad I left Delray….when the Yankees took over…”

(Comment: I’ve seen this tired trope a few hundred times, sometimes New Yorkers are used instead of Yanks, but as a New Yorker I get the not so veiled message: this place was Eden before the New Yorkers came here and ruined it. Not only is that a horribly flawed argument, it’s often made by people who are in business as if Yankees don’t buy homes, cars, furniture, meals, financial products etc. There’s one realtor I will never do business with because he just loves to insult New Yorkers. Now that I know what he thinks of me, I figure there are many other good realtors who may appreciate my business and referrals. Is that petty? Maybe. But if I was his broker, he’d be out the door in a New York minute).

I can go on and honestly this last spasm of nasty wasn’t as bad as some others that I have seen. It’s why I use Facebook to share pictures of dogs and my blog—while avoiding the various groups and pages that feed the divide rather than foster debate. For the record, I was texted “screen shots” of the quotes I shared until I begged the sender to stop. I got the drift.

Bottom line: there has got to be a better way.
Because I don’t think the current way is really working here or elsewhere We don’t seem happy as a nation, we don’t seem to be solving problems (as a society) and we don’t seem to be united on much these days.

As a former elected official, I wrestled with some similar challenges. But it seems social media has taken it to a new level of mean.

The commission’s I served on tried to find ways to connect and to foster respectful debate. Sometimes I think we did and sometimes we fell short.

We urged the chamber of commerce to get involved, we tried to create a safe environment at city meetings, charrettes, town halls etc. and we tried to introduce neighbors to each other through “neighborhood dinners.”

Was everybody happy?
Not on your life. (And I have the emails to prove it).

But we tried, and we also understood that you can’t make everyone happy. You have to make decisions and that means some people will walk away fuming. It goes with the territory.

But most of us on the dais, endeavored to raise the level of debate, to keep it fact-based and to do what we felt was best for the long term good of the community. Ultimately, it’s up to the voters and history to decide whether leaders at any level succeed.

But ultimately, it is about civility. The ability to work with our fellow citizens is essential to a healthy and sustainable democracy. Community begins to fall apart when civility crumbles.

Let’s not fear the argument. Let’s fear the absence of civility.

 

 

 

Riot, Redemption & Rock n’ Roll

Great documentary with a guest appearance by Delray’s own Max Weinberg.

We went to Ipic last week to see a new documentary Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock n’ Roll.

Nestled in our cozy “pod” with a pillow, blanket and a glass of wine after a long day,  it would have been tempting to nod off but the movie grabbed us from the opening frame and held us through the mini concert at the end.

Having been to Asbury Park last summer it was extra interesting because we recognized streets,  buildings and iconic landmarks.

Asbury Park—all of one square mile—looms large in our national consciousness because of its history and musical roots. This little town punches far above its weight.

In the 60s, the place crackled with amazing music. All of the big acts—The Stones, Hendrix, The Who, The Byrds—played the convention hall sometimes on the same bill all for $5 a ticket.
Can you imagine?

But just as compelling was the local music scene with clubs like the Upstage, The Stone Pony and the Wonder Bar attracting local legends such as Bruce Springsteen, Miami Steve Van Zandt and Southside Johnny.

It was a special and magical time that came to a crashing end with the riots of  July 1970.
The redemption comes later, with the redevelopment of Asbury again driven in large part driven by music.

It’s a great story. And if you love cities and music this is a must see film.

I’ve been thinking about the documentary ever since and the instant attachment I felt to the area when we visited. I’m a Springsteen fanatic and to walk the boardwalk and see the sights that inspired my favorite songwriter was a real thrill.
As a student of cities, I also admire how Asbury leveraged its strengths and brand to launch an impressive comeback.

The riots took a huge toll on the town’s economy and soul and was sparked by racial tensions that seethed between east Asbury and the west side of town. Because despite the vibrant music scene and the throngs of tourists who were flocking to the shore the people on the west side of town were lacking jobs, quality housing and recreational opportunities. Tensions may build slowly, but when they explode the impacts can last years. In Asbury’s case, the damage caused by the riots lasted decades.

The documentary confronts the issues head on and also shows the terrible toll that violence, inequality, racism and poverty takes on a town until one day, sparked by something minor it all unravels.
There are lessons there.

Springsteen, sitting in the ruins of a former club where he played, talks about the riots as something that perhaps “had to happen.”
Maybe, I suppose.

But isn’t it sad that things have to boil over into violence and destruction before people eventually focus on what needs to be done.

The movie praises Asbury Park for its redemption and seems to strongly indicate that things are different today with care being taken to avoid and or confront some of the mistakes of the past and not repeat them.

I don’t know enough about Asbury to know whether that’s true. But it does seem that once again music is leading the way—with schools focused on bringing east and west together through music and the Asbury Film and Music Festival positioned as a major cultural force that bring tourist dollars back to town.

We loved our stay in Asbury—the restaurants were awesome, the music scene was lively and the beach was beautiful. So were the neighborhoods which seems to be attracting urban pioneers and creatives.
If you’re in the area, visit. The Jersey Shore is a lot more than Snooki and “The Situation.”
It’s a place of magical history, enduring music and cultural importance. If you can’t, check out the documentary it’s special.

Things We Loved in May

Great documentary with a guest appearance by Delray’s own Max Weinberg.

Things We Loved in May

 

It was great to see Boca Raton based Mela Artisans featured in Florida Trend Magazine in May. The company specializes in selling handmade goods made in India online and in stores such as Home Goods and TJ Maxx.

Keep an eye on this growing company.

 

FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science earned a $652,820 grant from the National Science Foundation to establish an Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning Laboratory. That’s good news for FAU as the Lab is said to be a first of its kind grant for the National Science Foundation proof of the university’s growing reputation in cutting edge fields of research.

 

 

Over 64 of tomorrow’s stars converged on the Delray Beach Swim & Tennis Club May 4-6 for the United States Tennis Association Boys and Girls 18 and under championship.

 

The PIM Open features rising stars who come to Delray for three days of top notch competition.

 

The event provides a boost to the local economy just when we need it, putting heads in beds at hotels and exposing Delray to players, families, coaches, college scouts etc.

 

Tennis is an important industry in Delray and we should grow it,  not litigate it.

 

 

 

 

We wish The EJS Project a happy one year anniversary and congratulate them on a great mini- documentary that was released in May. Check out the organization here: https://www.ejsproject.org/

 

We were honored to attend the 100th anniversary celebrations Plastridge Insurance at the Delray Marriott. Please see our blog about Plastridge and the legacy of the Lynch family here. We were also thrilled to see Plastridge win the “Business of the Century Award” from the Boca Chamber at a gala luncheon at the Boca Resort.

Plastridge Chair Tom Lynch told the capacity crowd that the key to success is to balance business with family life and to find time to take care of your health along the way. Tom is a terrific role model.

Congrats to fellow honorees Sal Saldana GM of Town Center at Boca Raton named Business Leader of the Year & Roxana Scaffidi of Florida Accounting & Advisers who was named Small Business Leader of the Year.

 

We were thrilled to see Frances Bourque get an honorary degree from the University of Florida in May. Please see our tribute here http://yourdelrayboca.com/our-frances-a-most-distinguished-citizen/

 

 

Speaking of Plastridge, CEO Connor Lynch was honored by Sun-Sentinel with a Next Excalibur Award.

 

Lynch, 38,  was not only honored he is the first winner of the Next Excalibur Award, which recognizes the next generation of leaders whose voices will contribute to the growth and sustainability of business and civic life in Palm Beach and Broward counties. Connor was selected by a committee of previous Excalibur award winners. His father was an Excalibur winner in 2000.

How cool is that!

 

Restaurant fare

 

Crazy Mike’s has crazy good wings.

Timpano on Las Olas has awesome food.

Da Best on Dixie and Yamato is a great sandwich shop.

Okeechobee Steakhouse: a classic with a fun bar scene, great service and truly great food. A true gem.

We tried Duck Donuts in Boca and it was awfully good. Just delicious.

The penne with mushrooms at Sardinia—defies description.

Don’t miss the plum wine at Sushi Thai in Delray and we are loving the Bee Hive in Boca.

Also, if you visit iPic Delray check out the pizza. It’s delish.

Last but never least, Ziree never fails in the taste and service department. Highly recommend you visit.

 

Thanks Chuck

Kudos to our friend Chuck Halberg who does so much for the community.

Chuck, a longtime Arts Garage patron, donated the roughly $40,000 worth of improvements that will add a classroom, an improved box office, a bar and administrative offices.

Viva Las Vegas

I attended my first International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas this month.

In a word, it was overwhelming. More than 30,000 attendees, miles of booths and exhibits and some interesting seminars on the future of retail and shopping center design.

One takeaway: while we read about the “retail apocalypse” bricks and mortar still has some life left. Sure things are changing and we have to pay attention and adapt, but 91 percent of retail sales still take place in a physical store. We’ll revisit some of these subjects in upcoming blogs.

 

The 2019 Boca Raton Bowl will be televised on ABC on a Saturday afternoon instead of ESPN on a Tuesday night. The game will be played in FAU Stadium and the date is Dec. 21. Time is 3:30. Very cool. Mark your calendars.

 

Movies:

 

We caught Booksmart at Cinemark. Wonderful directorial debut from Olivia Wilde. The film has a chance to become a classic of the coming of age genre.

Finally, saw Vice on a cross country flight. Powerful. Christian Bale just may be the best actor of his generation.

We also caught a special showing of Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock N’ Roll at the new iPic. Wonderful documentary chronicling the rise, fall and rise again of a seaside city. We’ll have more in an upcoming blog. Highly recommend you go if you love cities, rock music and New Jersey.

 

Books:

 

I finished two books in May and recommend both. Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg is a beautifully written book about the public realm and the best defense of public libraries I’ve ever seen.

Love the title. And the sentiment.

Investments in libraries, parks, community centers, art, culture etc.,  are essential keys to happiness and strong communities. It’s a good message for our troubled times.

 

Thanks to Kate Volman I read Matthew Kelly’s book on creating a winning and happy culture, the Culture Solution.

 

A must read for business, government, academics and non-profit leaders who care about creating winning cultures. And if you don’t care…well you aren’t really a leader.

Until next month. Thanks for reading.

Leadership Creates Waves Then Ripples

The best leadership creates waves and ripples.

They say that success is a team sport.

That’s true.
But individuals can really make a difference too. And some people are so special that their good works create ripples that sometimes go unnoticed.
That thought crossed my mind when I attended a recent Boca Chamber luncheon honoring Plastridge Insurance as “Business of the Century.”
Among the attendees and speakers at the event were FAU Research Park President Andrew Duffell, Business Development Board of Palm Beach County President Kelly Smallridge and Chamber CEO Troy McClellan—three influential local leaders who can all point to Plastridge Chairman Tom Lynch as a mentor/catalyst for their careers.
And that’s how it works.
The best leaders create/help/nurture/empower/encourage other leaders.
I’m fortunate to have known many like Tom Lynch whose influence resonate far beyond their own work. These leadership “ripples” are not only gratifying to witness it’s often fun to connect the dots.
Most of my experience with leadership is centered around Delray Beach. It’s here that I saw former Chamber CEO Bill Wood help a long series of leaders reach the next rung by recruiting them to his board and watching them climb the ranks at the Chamber and in the community.
I also witnessed Mayor David Schmidt work with students at Atlantic High School taking many to Delray’s Sister City Miyazu, Japan and sparking in them an interest in international culture and travel.
I’ve seen Marjorie Waldo work her magic at a local charter school and then strengthen an important non-profit, The Arts Garage changing lives along the way.
I’ve seen Chuck Halberg support innumerable non-profits and create some organizations that have helped hundreds of people  including Impact 100 for Men and the Delray Beach Initiative.
My friend Perry Don Francisco’s leadership ripples/waves are everywhere: police officers and firefighters benefit from his work with Delray Citizens for Delray Police, their children  earning scholarships and their careers blossoming as a result of his support and advice.
Three other solid examples are former City Attorney Susan Ruby, former Police Chief Rick Overman and former Fire Chief Kerry Koen.
Susan hired excellent lawyers who went on to become city attorneys in other jurisdictions. She entrusted them with tough cases and as a result– during her tenure — a vast majority of legal work was handled “in house” and very successfully I might add.
Chief Overman turned our police department into a training ground for chiefs. Those who didn’t aspire to be a Chief still found opportunities to grow as detectives, career officers, K-9 officers and community policing specialists. Former Fire Chief Kerry Koen was also well-known for his ability to spot talent and grow it.
Two non-profit executives I admire are also busy minting new leaders: Emmanuel “Dupree” Jackson and his EJS Project are devoted to changing the trajectories of lives in Delray neighborhoods and Mark Sauer’s Bound For College (formerly Delray Students First) has devoted his life to giving opportunities to those who might not otherwise have a shot at college. The waves they are creating are just getting started.
And the list goes on.
Great leaders leave a mark. They influence lives. They leave their communities better than they found them and they nurture others who will go further. They create waves that make a splash, but their ripples endure for generations.
As Simon Sinek so wisely says: The leaders who get the most out of their people are the leaders who care most about their people. 
Amen.

Rewards For Those Who Study

Do you remember when bus tours used to come to Delray to see how we did things?”

That was the question I was asked recently by a friend who also happens to work for the city.
Yes, I do. And I also remember when we took trips to other cities to see how they did things and to share strategies around subjects such as neighborhood revitalization, economic development, historic preservation, public safety, arts, culture and creating a great downtown.
Daytona Beach, GreenCove Springs, Punta Gorda, Winnipeg, Cape Coral, Miami Shores and  a few towns in Alabama,
Massachussetts and South Carolina were among the cities that made the trip here to look at Old School Square, Atlantic Avenue, Pineapple Grove, the Police Department, Fire Department, CRA and City Hall.
Organizations came here too: The Florida Preservation Trust, chambers of commerce from near and far, the Congress for New Urbanism, Florida Planning and Zoning Association, Florida Redevelopment Association, LISC and the list goes on and on.
And we went places too: Transforming Local Government conferences, to Greenville, Neighborhood USA conferences etc.
Now some would say they were junkets. But they would  be wrong.
Those trips, which many times included community partners and residents, built relationships, knowledge and sparked ideas. They were essential to Delray’s redevelopment.
These days I still visit cities and see them through a different lens than before I got involved in local government.
We seek out downtowns, love to walk city streets and try to go off the beaten path where possible.
I find it interesting and inspiring.
I just love cities.
Recently, we wandered downtown Durham, Raleigh and Apex while visiting my daughter Sam in Cary, North Carolina.
I loved seeing the old buildings mixed with the new projects and the adaptive reuse of old tobacco structures.
The Triangle is a dynamic area. Chock full of employment, beautiful neighborhoods, parks, historic districts and teeming with breweries, food halls and cool hotels.
We were wowed.
I was struck by three things: the health of the shopping centers, the abundance of reasonably priced beautiful housing and the sheer amount of employment.
And I thought, this is a good place to study and explore.
A few years ago, a group of business leaders went to Durham to study the area and its business incubation efforts.
I heard a lot about the trip. It’s a good leadership practice to visit other places and to study organizations and businesses.
These trips spark ideas and inspiration.
Similarly, hosting visitors helps you focus on your own success. stories. Sharing those stories are valuable, life affirming and help to build civic pride. Listening to another community’s stories makes us feel—in a small way—a part of things.
I’m still sharing our stories with groups and I still marvel at the work that was done. It makes me appreciate my hometown. And that’s a good thing.