Buffalo Business First sponsored a Power Breakfast (more like a Power Continental Breakfast) this morning. About maybe 300 business people were there to listen to a panel discussion among Tom Kucharski, Dr. Henry Louis Taylor, Eric Recoon and Carl Paladino.
The questions that were asked? I’ve already forgotten. Basically, the panelists’ answers were pretty much a regurgitation of the same complaints we’ve been hearing for decades here in Western New York: The lack of leadership, economic stagnation, lack of vision, parochialism, taxes, inefficient government, poor education, and lawsuits. Carl Paladino was particularly negative; I hope he was just having a bad day.
But there was little conversation about solutions and only mild optimism, mostly from Tom Kucharski. Norm Bakos crept up from somewhere and vented during the open mike portion of the event. Several other audience members who approached the microphone also seemed to have agendas not in sync with the discussion topics.
Inasmuch as I enjoy attending these events, it seems that if the panelists or sponsors want us business leaders to jump on the bandwagon, they need to be cheerleaders rather than grumps. I did not walk away with any sense of communal enthusiasm, nor – from the lack of reaction from those attending – did I think the group as a whole was eager to participate in a new phase of the Buffalo renaissance.
The gist was this: We are here, it’s a place full of neglect and bureaucracy and corruption, and we need to get there, to sweetness and delight. Only there is so great a leap that not many in the audience could understand how this community is going to cross the chasm between here and there.
What was missing was the cheerleading, and a frank discussion about the little steps we could take – not the grand vision but those little solutions that, over time, would add up to significant change – something tangible and attainable by us mere mortals, in our lifetimes.
We have been making many incremental steps in the past few years. We need to emphasize these wins rather than whine about not achieving the impossibly big leaps.