The vast majority of the readers of this blog are business professionals in the Kennebec Valley. At least that's the assumption I am going to start with. I apologize if you are not in this group, but read along anyway, you might learn something.
In business we are always concerned about "Our Image". From the top of the organizational chart, who is concerned with business image to the front line representative who is concerned with the customer's experience; Image is everything.
We see countless example of businesses and individuals who fail to grasp that the image of your organization defines who you are to the public: GM failing to handle their recalls properly; Sea World with their poor practices and the effect of the documentary "Blackfish"; and Abercrombie and Fitch continuing to display unrealistic images in their marketing. How the public perceives your organization is key to gaining a customer base and building relationships.
With regards to your individual companies, you not only have to present well to your customers, but to the public as well. When you are away from your business, I am sure you speak highly of the positive attributes of your business. If you are in sales, you have likely developed an "elevator pitch". This is a 2-3 minute explanation of your business and your product (to be used when the opportunity arises in an elevator). This is a great opportunity to promote the highlights and benefits of your product.
So what is your elevator pitch for the Kennebec Valley? Very few people take the time to think about the effect they have when they talk about their region to outsiders. In our development of The Kenney Awards, we actually heard people say "Augusta is just not a black tie kind of place". I disagree very strongly. Augusta, and the entire Kennebec Valley can be whatever we make it.
If we, the business leaders in the Kennebec Valley, decide that we want to be technological pioneers, the "Silicon Valley of Maine", we can do that. If we want to be a cultural hub known for amazing arts and culture we can do that. If we want to be known for the amazing number of small farms and great agricultural resources, we can do that too.
What we can't do is succeed by running around telling everyone what we are not.
It's all about image and I think we need to work on ours. It's time we stopped acting like an ugly duckling or a second class region. We have some incredibly strong attributes here and an amazing workforce. It's time we told the world.
That's what The Kenney Awards are all about. It's our chance to brag about who we are and what kind of people and businesses we have here. We have guests coming from all over the state - let's show them how fantastic it is to live and work in the Kennebec Valley. I hope you will join us and celebrate the great success our region continues to see.
Regardless of your plans next Friday, please give this topic some thought. I ask that you reflect on the great things that happen in the Kennebec Valley each day. Share some of them on your Facebook feed. Talk about them to your friends and family from away, and find time each day to brag a little. It will take all of us talking a bit louder to let Maine know that Success Starts Here. We'll do our part, will you?