Here’s the formula: Start telling everyone it’s awesome. On a plane. With relatives. On your blog. To customers. Everywhere. (I’m not saying you should lie. Just focus on the positives!)
Here’s the secret: where communities are concerned, changing people’s common belief will change a community’s reputation and that will change reality.
To illustrate, let’s think about Austin, Texas. Here’s what I know about Austin:
- It has a reputation for being awesome.
- The traffic is terrible and I spend hours stuck in it.
- The legislature is there. My days spent there have been some of the worst.
- It gets all the good concerts while San Antonio gets squadoosh.
- It has annoying UT Fans.
Wait. Austin has a reputation for being awesome but my personal experiences are to the contrary. Then why do I say it’s awesome? For a simple reason: everyone tells me it’s awesome enough to overwhelm my experience that it sucks. Why do they think it’s awesome? Because of the people and attitude. They’re unique, thoughtful and interested in “fun” things.
Austin is a community. The people that live there predominantly say, “It’s awesome.” People who visit tell other people it’s awesome. What’s happened over time? Awesome people have moved to Austin because it has a reputation for being awesome. Adding awesome people makes a place more awesome.
This can work even on small scale. To illustrate, imagine a public school. What makes a good school? A good school is able to generate prepared kids in a safe environment. How does this happen? You have good teachers and prepared kids. Imagine you have a bad school but you start telling everyone how good it is. What happens? Good teachers want to teach there. Parents with prepared kids move there. Quickly you have a good school. Think it can’t happen? This is precisely what a group of parents did with Bonham Academy a few years back and it’s quietly become the best inner city school in town. Involved parents made a difference for sure, but the reputation effect made even more of a difference.
So, there you have it. If you want to San Antonio to be awesome a couple of decades from now just repeat after me: “San Antonio is going places. San Antonio is awesome.” Who knows, you’ll probably even start to believe it. I do.