What is Grand Rapids’ dream?
This was the question Lance Secretan, inspirational author and teacher, urged the city to find an answer to, when he served as keynote speaker at the 125th annual meeting of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. About 500 people attended Secretan’s presentation Tuesday evening at DeVos Place.
Secretan, former managing director of Manpower Ltd., has authored about 15 books on the subject of leadership. The core of the answer, however, is in inspiration and the heart of good leadership, and the difference between a system that will either motivate by fear or inspire with a dream.
“I think it’s more to do about inspiration, not leadership. We need to inspire and we’re looking for people that inspire us,” he said. “I think our political system federally is broken. I’m not sure there’s an immediate opportunity to make that better,” he said. “I’m not optimistic about government becoming something we’re passionate about and pleased about . . . and proud of.
“If that’s the case, how are we going to fix this?” he asked.
His answer was a city’s dream; not mission statement or values, but dream. Great cities can be inspiring places, he said, and although Grand Rapids is mainly known as the home of President Gerald R. Ford and great furniture, he thinks it could become a national landmark known for much more if it finds a dream.
“I think the answer is by building great cities, building great cities all across the country that, in the end, set the tone and the example for the political system we’re really looking for and which we know we can’t get at other levels,” he said. “It’s not going to be fixed at the state level. It’s going to be fixed at the city level. So the city becomes the champion institution in our society.”
Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, had dreams to produce something, Secretan said. If Grand Rapids had a vision to create something with the passion those men had, he said, the city would change the economic landscape of the recession.
For example, the city of Louisville developed the dream to be a center of health and wellness, he said. In the past three years, the city developed 250 new businesses and added 175,000 jobs.
Learning from Louisville’s example, Secretan challenged Grand Rapids to find a core dream that would transcend political and economic agendas, uniting the city in hope and inspiration.
“When you have a dream, the dream becomes the story itself and becomes a legend.” he said. “I leave you with that thought. What will be the dream of Grand Rapids?”
In the video below, Secretan discusses his one-dream concept.