The First Post: Action alone isn’t enough

@SeanMaroni & I with Bloomberg TV at HQ Raleigh

Creating content is something I’ve been putting off for years.

There’s always been something more important to do than blogging. And that’s especially true when one of your core beliefs runs directly counter to storytelling:

I thought actions alone spoke for themselves.

While this may be true in occasional cases, it doesn’t reflect the true nature of our world. Today more people are competing for an increasingly finite set of human attention.

Focusing the world’s attention in the right direction is critical to collaboration and compounding actions.

My favorite example of this comes from watching Raleigh tell its story.

In 2009 I attended a talk by Christopher Gergen about social entrepreneurship. He talked about the great work of groups like Ashoka, the Duke Social Entrepreneurship program, and his new venture, Bull City Forward. I was drawn immediately to the energy of the people connected to those programs.

But when I looked for entrepreneurial communities in Raleigh, I came up empty handed. We didn’t have the right stuff. But that was about to change.

We’re all familiar now with the Innovate Raleigh story, Citrix & Red Hat moving downtown, and the tireless work of people like Mary-Ann Baldwin, Jason Widen, Christopher Gergen, Brooks Bell, Jes Lipson, David Diaz, Michael Goodman, and the talented teams behind HQ Raleigh & American Underground.

Lots of heavy lifting happened to bring great spaces and people downtown, but that was only half of the equation.

HQ Raleigh Opening (Triangle Business Journal)
What happened next was equally important: Raleigh told a story.

Between groups like the Chamber of Commerce, Wake County Economic Development, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, and others, the good things happening in Raleigh were shared with the world. And people started noticing.

Before we knew it, Raleigh was consistently making top ten lists for things like entrepreneurship, culture, livability, and innovation.

Via Forbes ‘Best Places for Business’ 2014

As these stories reached more people, more wanted to move to the area to experience this great place.

That hits home for Cityzen, as we’ve been looking to hire a new front-end developer for our increasing digital work with nonprofits & campaigns. Our job posting received inquiries from people from New York to Texas and California. We found that most candidates were more than willing to make a move to come to this place.

And our newest team member, Aaron Snipes, was no exception. After graduating from NC State, he spent a few years working for a software company in Austin. But while there, he saw the great energy in Raleigh and this spring made moves to return to pursue a graduate computer science degree and join the startup scene. More on Aaron soon.

The moral of the story? Never be afraid to tell your story. Humility is beautiful, but not when it’s a barrier to collaboration. Stories tell us not only where we’ve been, but also shape where we’re going:

The future is ours to create, but only if we paint the picture of what we will become.

For us at Cityzen, this means building a way to involve more people in the efforts to improve our world. That means connecting those on the sidelines with the organizations doing great work, and better engaging those already involved.

We’re starting with online polling to connect people to groups that align with their views. Check it out at