What wonderful things are happening in our JCMO! This issue is full of stories of just some of the many inspiring people with big dreams breathing new life into our city. With these changes, it is imperative we take time to reflect on where we are headed and how we are going to get there.

Jim Collins, in his article “Good to Great,” studied nearly 1,500 companies over 40 years to determine how companies achieve greatness. He explains, “To decide where to drive the bus before you have the right people on the bus is absolutely the wrong approach.” Collins suggests that, even with a great vision, without the right people on the bus, you can only achieve mediocre results.

To me, it seems the right people are getting on the bus here in Jefferson City. And as I hear our people share their stories, I’ve found that they subscribe to three important truths.

We may not be home to the Arch, Worlds of Fun or Truman the Tiger, but we are home to a beautiful State Capitol building, a historic penitentiary, Binder Park and the Missouri River Bike/Pedestrian Bridge, along with a number of unique and longstanding businesses such as Capitol City Cork and Provisions, Madison’s and Southbank Gift Co. The people on the bus have embraced our distinctive community assets and are capitalizing on those assets. The more JCMO reflects the interests and values of its own citizens, the better we are for it. 

The people on our bus find a way to make things happen. How many times do we hear, “Jefferson City doesn’t have X, Y or Z”? It’s easy to put the blame on the any number of other organizations or people for your town not having what you want, but now we’re watching citizens step up and bring in the businesses and services they want themselves. Five years ago, there was no such thing as Thursday Night Live, a weekly summer entertainment festival that now draws approximately 5,000 people into the heart of downtown. We also didn’t have a Yo-Yums, The Grand Café, J. Pfenny’s Sports Grill and Pub or The Twisted Canvas. But with some very motivated entrepreneurs, these new businesses are benefiting the community as a whole. I’ve found that, in this town, if you have a good idea and are willing to put in the work, the community will come together to support you in that endeavor. 

These people all have their own JCMO story. I’m telling mine several times a week on my blog, myJCMOblog.com. I started my blog because I wanted others to see Jefferson City as I do: a wonderfully interesting place to live with ample opportunities to learn, grow and connect. People question how I got into blogging as a lawyer, but for me, it makes perfect sense; I’m an advocate by profession. As citizens, it’s our choice to advocate for JCMO. The people on my bus are doing it day in and day out, and they don’t use slang to refer to our town or say things like “It’s nice — for Jefferson City.” We are quick to offer information or positive experiences in the face of complaints, suggest a local spot for shopping or dining, encourage friends and family to visit here or promote JCMO as a prime spot for an event or meeting.

It is true: We are our own worst critics, but we are also our best advocates. No one can tell the JCMO story like we can, like the way our favorite local meal tastes, the pride with which people claim their neighborhoods and the unbelievable generosity of the community.

We are headed to a great JCMO because the right people are getting on the bus. Although I don’t know the exact destination, I do know there are seats still available. And if this issue is any indication, we are going to need a bigger bus.