Despite a flurry of constructive activity and visionary planning by economic developers, Nebraska is falling behind the pack. It takes a new kind of thinking to revitalize Nebraska, a creative consciousness that blends quantum physics with strategic marketing. The target? "UrbaNatural" workers 18 to 34 who are attracted to "new and interesting" professional challenges, no matter where they exist.
If you were told that the state of ‘Nebraska’ is an idea - a concept - you may misinterpret this to mean that the state is less than real – nebulous, without reality, without purpose and without ‘motive action.’
It takes reflection to grasp the value of an idea.
But think about this idea: your own existence is multidimensional; you are connected to infinite probabilities, all of which reflect your self image. Physicists have told us this. Your self-image - your idea of yourself - is what keeps us alive!
Ideas, then, are far more important than we realize. If you can accept that notion, then you'll sense what the word “NEWbraska™ could mean.
By using the word, “NEWbraska™”, the state becomes connected to ‘all things new’ – a breathtaking expanse of change, risk, experimentation, failure and resolve in industries and communities that are deeply connected through big data and sensors.
NEWbraska™ is a story of beginnings that would appeal to our pioneer forefathers. To them, Nebraska was, indeed, an existential idea with multiple probabilities - an idea that came to them in dreams. These dreams intermingled at a psychic level with humble, tangible tasks, each of them being symbolic.
At one level, these pioneering tasks were mundane. At another level, they were ideas of unimaginable magnitude.
TRANSFORMATION WITH ONE LETTER
And here we are today, sitting in one corner of the universe next to one letter of the alphabet – a small “W” - that has been waiting to transform the state of Nebraska into a living parable of early-morning freshness and compelling possibility.
With a W carefully placed in the first syllable of our state’s name, we can be understandable, but also emergent and pioneering in a different way from our ancestors.
All of these high minded ideas about our internal reality ignore one component that has external. economic importance. Nebraska needs more well-educated, tech-savvy people; they are the bait for big fish employers, big fish budgets, big fish salaries and big fish tax revenues that keep bridges, roads and schools intact.
SAME OLD, SAME OLD.
In the past, Nebraska has wooed UrbaNatural people with logical, tangible pleas and ploys. That's fine as far as it goes. Unfortunately, there is also a subjective dimension that deters young UrbaNatural natives: sameness; specifically, a status quo mindset in our state's business sector.
College professors have infused Nebraska's youth with an appetite for new challenges, strategies, titles (Chief Innovation Officer, anyone?), products, cultures and most importantly, new values…and new bonuses.
"New" is the carrot, tuition repayment is the whip.
Most importantly, these young recruits crave meaning. Despite their technological focus, they are isolated psychologically. They see a grim future and wonder how to cultivate an internal buffer, a stable sense of “OK-ness" to carry them forward.
They are too distracted by their phones and burned-out by their work-life to figure it all out.
The anxiety is real. They marry later and have fewer children because of this complexity. One out of every five young men has contemplated suicide!
Employers don’t want to wade into this philosophical morass. But many are being pushed into discussing ‘higher purpose,' social responsibility or racial diversity with their apprehensive UrbaNatural employees. Most of those conversations go nowhere.
In the face of all this 'stuckness,' the word ‘new’ has great import. NEWbraska could increase the optimistic intensity of employees’ private dreams. They may be inexperienced, but they know instinctively that in this crazy world, “newness" must be a part of every company, career, product line and business dialogue. That's part of the UrbaNatural ethos.
UrbaNaturals sense that innovation are part of a pattern that was started by our great, great, great grandparent-pioneers in the late 1800s.
‘New discoveries’ were part of everything then. Next came applied creativity and eventually, industrial systems which optimized success. Unfortunately, the processes that spawned success eventually fossilized into a ‘dry-bones-culture-of-routine.' Today, young workers reject routine, inertia and unnecessary barriers to speedy progress. They want their employers to think like a start-up, as suggested in Eric Ries' book The Start-Up Way.
THREE LETTERS. THREE WORDS.
As Nebraska's business owners and CEOs tip toe into the post-pandemic chapter of business activity in this state, one three-word principle must become Nebraska's prime moving force, a visceral battle cry:
'New is now!"