The Next America

Every once in awhile you meet somebody that you find fascinating and exceptionally helpful. For me, Don Holbrook fits that description well. I first met Don at an annual International Economic Development Council meeting in Atlanta. I had heard a lot about Don and made a point of making his acquaintance. Since that initial meeting, Don and I have had a number of conversations and his counsel has been both encouraging and invaluable to my understanding of economic development.

Don is a “larger than life” personality and it is only fitting his consulting practice (The Vercitas Group) is headquartered in Las Vegas. He is considered by many a pioneer of site location and community profiling technology, and is a well-respected speaker. Don is also an accomplished author. His work has been featured in the Wall Street journal, New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post and many other nationally prominent media.

Published in 2007 – The Little Black Book of Economic Development

Published in 2008 – Who Moved My Smokestack?

It didn’t take long for Don and me to find a common ground to build a friendship. He is a fellow Buckeye and shares a concern about the future of Brand America. Don’s latest book is a compilation of his thinking on the subject.

Published in 2011 – The Next America: Moving Beyond a Fragile Economy

Full Disclosure

In the spirit of full disclosure, I consider Don a friend and somebody I both respect and admire. He has provided me valuable guidance and wise counsel, but we have not worked together professionally. My recommendation of his book is based solely on my reading of it after purchasing it on Amazon (Kindle version $9.99).

The Book

The Forward is authored by Dr. Matthew Gardner, Director of Sustainserv and former Executive Director of the Earth System Initiative, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He sets a thought provoking tone for the book in his opening two sentences.

“Humanity faces challenges unlike others we have ever seen before. Our planet s changing in unpredictable and often deteriorating ways before our eyes, our social fabric is fraying, and our economies are stressed.”

It is against this backdrop that Don tackles a wide range of topics. His style is both reflective and authoritative. The book starts with a discussion on the need to change the national government in America, from rooting out systemic corruption to revising the tax code. Then Don tackles issues like homeland security, reviving local economies and becoming better stewards of the environment.

Spoiler Alert: The book is not a doomsday testament. Rather, it is intended to be a hopeful blueprint for a better future where Brand America regains its historical role of an aspirational global leader.

For every problem Don identifies, he proposes a possible solution. My characterization of Don’s message is that to Strengthen Brand America we need to make some fundamental product improvements. We need to remind ourselves of the Brand America promise and work to ensure its continued authenticity. The world is in a constant process of change and continual improvement of Brand America is the only way to achieve sustainable economic prosperity for her citizens.

Don defines Brand America’s promise as “… all are treated equally and are equally able to pursue life, liberty and happiness.”. Don and I both believe a grassroots approach to improvement can be effective in strengthening Brand America. It is the underlying theme of his book and the basis for the Strengthening Brand America Project.

Suggested New Year’s Resolution

  • Become a member of the Strengthening Brand America Project. It is free, simply click HERE.

What Books Would You Recommend Reading?

Please leave a comment with your recommended reading for 2012. If we all share, we’ll create a great “must read” list of books that will help us be better economic development professionals. Thanks in advance.

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3 Comments so far

  1. Don A. Holbrook, CEcD, FM

    December 31, 2011

    Ed,

    Thank you for your kind words. It is folks like you and your efforts with Strengthening Brand America that are the leaders in getting our grass root efforts motivated to take action to rebuild and reposition our great Republic for an awesome century. As you know I do not believe our best days are behind us. I think that each of us individually and collectively can make sure that our best days here in the land of the free and the home of opportunity are yet to come. As you know I advocate that all of those that say their voice is not heard or they have no ability to create positive change are just not willing to put in the effort that it takes as a citizen to ensure we evolve our country as our forefathers envisioned it, not on a deteriorating slippery slope of oversized and ineffective government that believes they know best for us. Each of us has to have the inner courage and passion to make sure we leave this country in better shape for our kids than it is now. The art of thriving and surviving in a world in constant economic chaos is going to be a difficult lesson for all of us. But we have proven before that there is no more resilient people than Americans at overcoming adversity and leading the world for positive change. Our tasks may seem many but when broken down they are both understandable and achievable. Thank you again for your review and kind comments. Happy New Year to you and those who are working to Strengthen Brand America. God Bless you all.

  2. Karen

    January 1, 2012

    I personally feel we are moving at a faster rate of change, though I think it is relative to the speed of the technology that drives our changes now. Each change only building on the current generation of knowledge. I find the quote, “Humanity faces challenges unlike others we have ever seen before. Our planet s changing in unpredictable and often deteriorating ways before our eyes, our social fabric is fraying, and our economies are stressed.” similar to historical quotes of past centuries. Change and stress has to do with our exposure and our personal ability to adapt. Time of change is less tolerated by business because of those who do not have to change the culture to achieve a different approach vs. those who do not create the shared vision to make it happen faster, such as in the use of the theory of appreciative inquiry.
    Just some thoughts that struck me on the brief introduction. I will make it a point to read the literature and revisit. Always open to understanding the perspectives of other’s life experiences.

  3. Karen Schultz

    January 1, 2012

    I personally feel we are moving at a faster rate of change, though I think it is relative to the speed of the technology that drives our changes now. Each change only building on the current generation of knowledge. I find the quote mentioned, “Humanity faces challenges unlike others we have ever seen before. Our planet s changing in unpredictable and often deteriorating ways before our eyes, our social fabric is fraying, and our economies are stressed.” similar to historical quotes of past centuries. Change and stress has to do with our exposure and our personal ability to adapt. Time of change is less tolerated by business because of those who do not have to change the culture to achieve a different approach vs. those who do not create the shared vision to make it happen faster, such as in the use of the theory of appreciative inquiry.
    Just some thoughts that struck me on the brief introduction. I will make it a point to read the literature and revisit. Always open to understanding the perspectives of other’s life experiences.

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