In Reid Hoffman’s and Ben Casnocha’s 2012 book titled, The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career, they detail the downfall of the auto industry and describe the city of Detroit in the following manner:
‘The great thing about living in America’s most abandoned city,’ deadpanned Tom Walsh, the local columnist, “is that there is never any traffic at any hour.” Abandoned is certainly the word that comes to mind if you walk the streets just outside the main downtown drag in Detroit. You can go blocks without seeing anybody.
Empty houses languish. Some are professionally boarded up, with ‘Condemned’ signs tacked to the front door; others have only black tarp stapled within empty window frames. Many buildings bear an eerie resemblance to crumbling gingerbread houses. About a third of the city — an area the size of San Francisco — is deserted.
For those who remain, life is grim. Detroit is the second-most-dangerous city in the United States (behind Flint, Michigan). Half of its children live in poverty. It leads the country in unemployment — estimates run anywhere from 15 to 50 percent. The school system is a travesty: eight out of ten eighth-graders are unable to do basic math. Most local politicians are variously corrupt and inept. Unbelievably, there is not one produce-carrying grocery chain in the whole city.
Detroit was once the symbol of progress, of what is good and possible. The auto industry was once the symbol of entrepreneurship. Now Detroit is the symbol of despair.
In the next section, they state, “Detroiters are everywhere… Why are so many winners ending up like Detroit? Each case is different, but underlying causes tend to include the hubris that comes from success, the failure to recognize and match competition, an unwillingness to exploit opportunities that contain risk, and an inability to adapt to relentless change.”
Throughout their book, Hoffman and Casnocha warn the readers not to become the “next Detroit.” Growing up in this area, I couldn’t help but to feel a certain type of angst by these pointed comments. However, I’ve been more than impressed in witnessing Detroit’s comeback since the Great Recession. Perhaps, Detroit followed some of the lessons in this book.
It is hard to believe it’s only been four to five years since this dire description of Detroit. I highly recommend The Start-up of You for anyone looking to transform their career and I highly recommend Detroit for anybody looking to visit a domestic city on the rise, full of culture, and buzzing with an unmistakable optimism of limitless possibilities.
In 2012, Hoffman and Casnocha wrote, “Detroit was once the symbol of progress, of what is good and possible.”
It is now 2017. To be sure, there is still much progress to be made, but I believe Detroit still is a source and pride of progress, of what is good and possible.
Maybe in the near future, Hoffman and Casnocha will write another book detailing the recent rise of Detroit. But I don’t believe they will need to, for as Jack Kennedy famously said, “victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”
This year, I have a feeling being labeled as the “next Detroit” will no longer be taken as an insult, rather it will be something we shall all strive to become. Hopefully, I can meet “Detroiters” everywhere.
#America #Diversity #Detroit #SpiritofDetroit #StudentVoices