There are so many things I love about this city. The history, the culture, the food, the fun and most of all the people. I have made some wonderful life long friends, fallen in and out of love, smiled, cheered, laughed and cried with some of the most fantastic people I have ever met. I love the busy streets of downtown, the quiet countryside of the suburbs and that within a short time I can be listening to the waves of the ocean.
So, why am I considering leaving? Because as much as I love this city, as much as I want to do for the community here, I am starting to feel that I can no longer make a difference.
Most of you know that I am actively involved in the tech/creative/social media/entrepreneurial communities here in Philly. I give of my heart, soul, energy and a tremendous part of my time to building and promoting the community. I support multiple organizations in this community. I freely and willingly give this time and effort. I do it because I believe in this city and the community we are building here. I believe in some simple ideals –
- That we can and must build a unified tech/creative/social media/entrepreneurial community
- That the community working together is infinitely stronger than the divided silos that we are currently allowing to emerge
- That the community is capable of doing great things and making great strides in all sectors of the city, including the government.
- That if you are going to proclaim to lead under a banner of building community, that you must work all inclusively to build that community for the benefit of all of its members
To others, these may seem to be optimistic and possibly naive ideals, but I firmly believe in them. I believe in the power that actions taken to further these ideals have to truly make a difference for this community and the city as a whole. Which brings us to one of the reasons why I am thinking about leaving Philly …
There are others in this community who believe in the same ideals. Who truly believe that being a leader in this community must be a selfless endeavor. While we all have motivations that involve building our businesses and our personal and professional reputations, the overriding motivation as a leader must be the growth and progression of the community and its members. It can not be about only promoting and working for a clique. Unfortunately, in my opinion, there are too many leaders in this community who have not embraced these ideals. Too many individuals who are vocal about promoting these ideals, but whose overall actions are contradictory to their alleged aims. Those who are looked up to as leaders when they fail to lead by walking their talk. It saddens me deeply that the obstacles of ego, infighting, immaturity, and elitist behavior are standing in the way of the miraculous things we, as a unified community, can do in this city and this region. It also bothers me that the efforts of many good people, who put tremendous effort into trying to make good things happen in this city are overshadowed by the loud voices of a few who have repeatedly demonstrated that they are more likely to talk than to truly act. When the acknowledged (and vocal) leaders of the community work more to promote division than coordination and cooperation, we can not achieve the things we are possible of achieving. Because I am seeing an acceleration in these types of instances and a growth in the “us versus them” mentality, I am losing faith that any of my efforts are capable of making the differences that I and others are committed to. When the visible leaders of the community are not the ones working the hardest to improve the quality of the entire community and seem to be actively working on dividing the community for their own aims, the hardest efforts of those behind the scenes become more difficult.
Which then leads me to another of the reasons, I am considering leaving Philly…
I entered this community and started my business here based on one primary ideal
That you must always do the right things for the right reasons
So that is what I have done. I have worked hard to build my business, but in hindsight, nowhere near as hard as I have, and continue to, work for the good of this community. I have given a significantly disproportionate amount of time, energy and money into work, events and support of this community and its organizations when compared with the time I have spent on business development. I will be the first to admit that my motives while primarily altruistic were not 100% so. A lot of the things I have done have given me access and exposure to the people who were my target market and who could help me grow my business. But I always came back to the same over-riding principle – do the right things for the right reasons – and for me that meant using the time and resources at my disposal to do the best and most I could for the community. I would love to be saying that karma has paid me back and things are booming in my business, but that is not the reality. I am paying for having spent more time on the community than I have on building my business. The saddest part of all of this is that the very community that I have worked so hard to help is the community that is my target market. They are the ones who could have most benefited from my services. Instead, I chose to give away much of my time and energy. I made my choices based on a love for and a deep belief in this community. I will live with the fact they were not wise choices. Will live with the knowledge that had I been more selfish and worked a bit harder on directly building my business rather than putting so much time and energy into supporting and building the community, my business would be in a much different position than it is currently. I comfort myself knowing in my heart and soul I was living by my creedo – do the right things for the right reasons. I will never regret any of the actions I took and given the choice, would probably take them again because they were the right things to do. For now, I must live with knowing that making those choices have put me into a financially precarious position and that I may not be able to continue the efforts that mean so much to me. That is heartbreaking. Maybe it is the military upbringing, but for me having to chose between doing what is right for myself over what is right for the many (the community), I will always choose what is right for the many. So unless someone steps up and is willing to start subsidizing all of my community building efforts, I may have no choice but to step away. Unfortunately stepping away means giving up my business, leaving this city and community that I love so much.
Add both of the things I have talked about and some pretty tumultuous personal events and I am left with a very heavy heart. Left wondering if my time in Philly is due to come to an end. Wondering if it is time to say enough – that I have put myself in a position where I can no longer financially, physically and emotionally afford to make the difference I truly want to make. Wondering if the obstacles standing in the way of the progress of this community can be worn down sufficiently to allow this city to become the world class tech/creative/entrepreneurial hub that it should be. And wondering have I been wrong all along?
I am not a quitter. I believe in this community. I love this city. In my heart of hearts I do not want to leave. But all of these things certainly make me wonder if it is time. So, my dear readers, I ask you. Has it all been worth it? Is it achievable? Have my and others personal sacrifices been worth it? How can I continue to do what I know in my heart is right? More importantly, should I?