“The value we create is directly related to how much valuable information we can produce, how much trust we can earn, and how often we innovate”.
Seth Godin, one of the most intuitive marketers of our time (and who lived in Buffalo as a kid), insists that the world has entered the Connection Economy. The connection economy has different rules from the industrial economy, and therefore different winners and losers. Thank God.
Buffalo was a loser for the last fifty years of the Industrial Economy because it rewards those who can produce the most average products or services for the lowest possible price. With massive competing economies across the globe, the situation was untenable for Buffalo and many other cities. Buffalo failed at being average so horribly, that it went from the fifteenth largest city in the country to out of the top 70 in sixty years.
That might be a good place to start in the Digital Age.
According to Godin, the connection economy “has enabled the weird edges, where people who care find others who care and they all end up caring about something even more than they did before they met”.
Sound familiar? By the way they fall on the bell curve, people who serve refugees, lobby for bicycle-friendly infrastructure, advertise Buffalo for free, form volunteer groups, and plant gardens in empty lots are the “weird edges,” Buffalo’s flatline has turned into a faint pulse because these people have connected.
“Most of all, the connection economy has replaced [average] with an insatiable desire for things that are new, real, and important”, Godin argues.
Being able to watch concerts together on our waterfront is new. Restored craftsman buildings in our urban core are real. Reusing a city, so we destroy less of the Earth is fundamentally important.
The desire for a new, real, important, Buffalo is so insatiable that thousands of people express it as the core of their identity.
“Tribes of talented individuals who are connected, mutually trustful and supported by one another are in a position to create a movement, to deliver items of value, to move ideas forward faster than any individual ever could”.
I’m guest-posting on this blog because I was able to connect with someone else who wants to improve Buffalo as much as I do. We have each found others we trust, who we want to support by creating value for them. Our tribes connect and merge as part of the process.
Buffalo is the perfect city for meaningful connection. There aren’t that many of us. For once, that’s a good thing. We live so close to each other, and can get so close to many of our problems, that we have a major advantage over places where it is harder for people to connect.
“If you interact with others, you have the ability to create something new, something that changes everything,” says Godin. Go to a group meeting. Follow a few very active “Buffalo” people on Twitter. You’ll notice that many of them overlap. The right people are connecting with each other.
Because they’re interacting, they care even more about Buffalo than they did before. They create even more new, real, and important things, and the tribes grow in the process. This is the reason you feel a different energy in Buffalo than you did ten years ago.
This shift in energy is why you should fear being uninvolved more than taking risks. What if no one reads my blog? What if people think my painted piano at Canalside is stupid? What if I volunteer to clean up a street in Black Rock and I look like a phony outsider?
It’s taking these risks that lead us (and therefore Buffalo) to get rewarded. The risk is what makes it meaningful, what makes it generous. Uninvolved is average. Average is handed to the lowest bidder and ignored. Ignored is switch cane poor in the connection economy. Take the risk. Connect. Be a part of the new, real, important, Buffalo.