The end of Akron, part I, stale bread

I just got back from giving a talk to a great group in Akron, OH.

The city is near death.

I haven’t consulted any almanacs or economic factbooks, and I’m sure I’ll hear from the mayor soon, but you can see it.

Someone at the conference explained to me that when you go to one of these events, you never leave the hotel anyway. That the hotel room, the lobby, the ballroom and the restaurant are all the same.


It starts with the bread they serve at dinner. The people in the restaurant have given up. The bread (on a Thursday!) is stale. The chefs don’t care about what they’re doing, and the waiters don’t care about their customers. The people I encountered (more than a dozen), were, with just one exception, beaten. Stooped shoulders and sad eyes, they’ve given up.

This wouldn’t matter to you, except I saw precisely the same behavior at a dot com company I visited in NY earlier this week. The same look of failure, the same feeling of impending, slow, inexorable doom.

A few minutes later, I had another meeting and it was completely different. The attitude, at a company in essentially the same business, couldn’t have been more different. The answer to every question was "why not?" instead of "why?"

Marketing isn’t done by computers, it’s done by people. And people who sense opportunity and have the confidence to be remarkable will always defeat defensive actions by people who have given up.