Chicago, I love. Who wouldn't?
Chicago is a stunningly beautiful and lovable city. Many of Chicago's neighborhoods and suburbs are its diamond necklace. Others are its noose.
One can't judge a book by its cover or a city by its shimmer.
Thoughtful and caring minds among us are saddened and shamed, and yet painstakingly informed by Chicago's record-breaking murders, shootings, abuse, crime, corruption, brutality, bullying, racism, incarceration of former elected officials, obfuscation, history lurking in halls of power, perennially low levels of employee engagement, and other oppressive, repressive, and retrogressive factors of Chicago life. The list goes on.
This red-faced moment may stop us from being The Windy (i.e., bloviating) City. Today is the day to embrace the entrepreneurial thinking-and-doing challenge of building and being what we know we need to be -- Chicago. The Ready City.
Forward-minded entrepreneurs are communicating the socioeconomic importance of deeper, wider, and higher independent thinking toward entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial ways of generating new jobs and other types of growth. From entrepreneurship education programs in high schools, to high-profile venture incubators on college campuses and elsewhere, entrepreneurially minded women and men are embracing innovation as a solution to what ails us.
Talking ad nauseam about ways the federal government, state, county, cities, and villages SPEND money -- without contributing to a steadier stream of conversation, ideas, and effort toward supporting those entrepreneurs, and other business leaders, who are generating new revenue -- is a blueprint for more failure. Entrepreneurs focus on creating jobs and other value.
New thinking = New ventures.
New ventures = New jobs.
New ventures and new jobs = New tax revenue.
Yes, new residents are also badly needed. We must stop the alarming number of people abandoning Chicago, and Illinois overall. The brain drain must stop!
In historically proud-as-punch Chicago, perhaps (just perhaps) more than in other big cities, a sustainable socioeconomic renaissance will depend on a deeper personal understanding of independence vs. dependence; the self-reliance (i.e., reliance on one's own powers and resources rather than those of others) that's modeled by job-creating, value-forming, and difference-making entrepreneurs.
Is Chicago's slowness toward change-for-the-better based on a historically maladaptive culture of acquiescence, benign neglect, or worse -- apathy?
Immediately we must redouble our deeper thinking, wider perspective, and higher action about entrepreneurial venture creation, value formation, and nonstop innovation.
Let's turn the oddly negative nickname we embrace, The Windy City (called "windy" for the city's infamous history of hot air), into a never-ending quest to be and remain Chicago. The Ready City.
With cognitive agility, emotional competence, and resource readiness, we will become ready to invite and welcome the region, state, nation and world -- for win-win-plus communication, commerce, and collaboration.
Throughout the Greater Chicago Metroplex, entrepreneurs are setting a fast pace.
Entrepreneurs -- of all ages and venture stages -- are to be supported as architects, builders, and funders for Chicago. The Ready City.
• John R. Dallas, Jr. is CEO of ENCLAVE for Entrepreneurs Foundation Inc. in Elk Grove Village.