Have you been getting these podcasts each week and thinking, “Ok, this sounds cool…but what else is there to this PureReinvention thing?” Our last podcast of the year answers the question – what the heck is next for PureReinvention?


“There are a number of people that are looking at each other and saying, ‘What’s really new out there? What can we bring to our staff…to our organization that’s new and fresh, that’s different and meaningful?’.” (2:10)

“If you’re looking for inspiration from the City of Detroit and how its lessons can be applied to your own journey and how to integrate those lessons learned at the street level with the opportunities you have – or want to have – at an executive level, these are the experiences that will change your career.” (5:30)


Tune in at 2:35 when we talk about Starters, the program focused on individual growth and development.

Reinvention Retreats is the answer to your question about what to do with your staff retreat budget that’s new and engaging and doesn’t suck. Listen at 6:40 to hear more about our plans for this new take on corporate retreats and/or team building.

At 8:05 Mike describes why all of the offerings you can get through PureReinvention in 2016 isn’t your standard “off the shelf programming.”


1 – The PureReinvention Team is gearing up for 2016 and there will be no new podcasts in December. We will return the first Monday in January.
2 – Look for two brand new products in 2016; one that focuses on personal growth and one that takes a new spin on the corporate retreat/team building getaway.
3 – We will grow the WE.INVENT collective by creating new cohorts and building on the one we started in October 2015.
4 – We are launching a new website in January 2016, and include blogs and Blabs as new ways to interact with you.
5 – Create time in your 2016 calendar for PureReinvention. Email hello@purereinvention.com to save your date before all the good time slots are gone.


Direct download: Episode_54_2015_Wrap_Up_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am EDT


If you are in need of a healthy dose of inspiration and motivation, give this podcast a listen straight away. Kate rejuvenates the change conversation with genuine advice and a contagious spirit for creative problem solving.

In Episode 053 Kate Snyder, owner and principal strategist at Piper & Gold Public Relations, personifies three of the Five Fundamentals of PureReinvention; Connect, Simplify and Move. Her approach to leading the communications committee at Impression 5 Science Center allows the group to be nimble and responsive. In this volunteer position she uses her passion for museums and professional knowledge to reimagine how a committee can achieve goals for its organization.

“If I can’t be all in then I’m going to politely decline being involved and I’ll save my time for something I’m passionate about.” (5:17)

“Know what you are, and what you aren’t is one of the things that has helped us be successful.” (12:40)

At 8:20 Kate diagnoses a one of the biggest barriers for many volunteer committees today and what to do about it.

Hear Kate describe how to build a committee diverse in thought and experience around 10:15 and listen for some creative ideas for identifying new volunteers.

1 – You have to be all in to truly understand the problem.
2 – Sometimes you have to “go dark” to refocus and build new momentum.
3 – Committees that are goal-driven are better positioned to help an organization move the needle in a positive direction.
4 – Connectivity takes root through conversation and clear communication.
5 – Committee work should simplify problems facing their organization and explore ways to move toward solutions.

Direct download: Kate_Snyder_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT


One of the hardest parts about change is recognizing when you fall back on old habits. Get some tips on how to avoid the same old patterns and infuse your organization with fresh ideas in this podcast.

In Episode 052, President of the Amway Hotel Corporation Rick Winn hits on some key strategies for maintaining a reinvention lifestyle. He draws on his experience as a current executive committee emeritus member at the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association to talk about conducting a strategic plan on today’s terms and grooming young professionals for board roles and career growth.

“In order to transition anything…you need to think differently. Sometimes it’s good to bring in an objective view to offer a different way of thinking.” (6:22)

“The more information [young professionals] have, the more interested they can become.” (15:05)

At 9:15 Rick cautions against falling back into old ways after setting a new process into place.

Listen around the 13-minute mark as Rick describes what he believes are important characteristics that create growth and add a new dynamic within a board as well as in the corporate world.

1 – Map out where you want to go, plan 3-5 year objectives.
2 – Remain steadfast in working toward your goals.
3 – Build a culture where it is natural to challenge each other to not fall back into old patterns.
4 – Have an expectation that change is good.
5 – Groom future board members and build up young professionals in their career by giving them access to knowledge.

Direct download: Rick_Winn_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

If you’re struggling with how to influence change at the board level, or how to develop a solid board/executive relationship, you do not want to miss this episode. Get your pen and paper ready, because you’ll want to jot down some takeaways of your own.

In Episode 051, Noah Smith, board president at Impression 5 Science Center and partner at Capitol Services, gets real about board leadership and interested engagement. He has some phenomenal insight about actively supporting the work of the executive director and how a board can be most effective during a time of dramatic change.

“Let’s stop talking about ‘wouldn’t it be great if’ and let’s just start doing some of that stuff.” (10:35)

“Once you get yourself out of trouble, then you have to move on to the next phase.” (18:15)
Listen around 7:55 to Noah explain why he thinks stability in leadership, particularly at the board level, is key during big change.

At 17:40 Noah debunks the myth that a board’s role is to rubber-stamp what the executive director puts in front of them and even offers the antidote for that type of sluggish board behavior.

1 – Continuity in leadership builds the bond between individuals and opens the door for “meaty” conversations.
2 – Board dreaming and board doing are two different things. Make sure both are happening.
3 – Engaged board members will actively listen, ask questions, set goals and make sure they are supporting the executive director to own the work.
4 – A good board is more than a gateway to good contacts, a good board is focused on developing new connections and ideas.
5 – Focus on how you can best support the efforts of the organization instead of using a board and committees to supplant the work.



Direct download: Noah_Smith_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

Erik Larson Promo Image


PureReinvention Podcast 050

Today the Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing is recognized as a model for how to stay relevant and keep up with customers’ changing demands. But that wasn’t always the case.

In Episode 050, Erik Larson, executive director of Impression 5, talks about how he evolved from thinking the only way he or his organization could be successful was to “grind it out” to adopting a growth mindset that allowed him to strategically plan for where the organization should be in the future.

“We struggled with complacency. We got good at what we did, saw some good trends and kind of relaxed. And all of a sudden you lose your relevancy and you go into panic mode.” (4:50)

“If you’re paying attention and listening, and actually willing to hear critical feedback, you can start to build a pathway to reinvention.” (19:40)

Jump to 6:25 to hear Erik tell us why it was harder to reinvent the internal structure and processes he had in place than it was to reimagine Impression 5’s products and services.

At 13:40 Erik discusses his “monumental shift” in thinking that moved him from operating in survival mode to taking a strategic approach that has grown his business from just getting by to being a model for sustainable change.

1 – Be honest with yourself about what is working, what isn’t and what you need to let go of to move forward.
2 – Internal examination is challenging for many people, but necessary for reinvention.
3 – Create advocates out of your stakeholders. 
4 – Trust gives you the space to take risks. 
5 – During a major overhaul, it’s important to make sure you have stabilizing influences in place to keep you pointed in the direction you want to go.

Direct download: Erik_Larson_-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am EDT

Get an inside look at the conversation on the bus ride home from our first WE.INVENT road trip. And now a special message from the PureReinvention crew…

If you don’t listen to any other part of this podcast, listen to the end starting around 22 minutes. All of the awesome women that took this trip with us tell you their best takeaway of the day – and it’s really cool.

“She made it very clear to stay informed…and be a life-long learner.” ~Amanda Toy, Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau (5:48)

“Even though you’re making plans and setting goals, you want to stay open to the changing environment [there’s a lot of good stuff that you should listen to in the middle here, then she makes this awesome comment] One thing I learned in motorcycle safety class is you go where you look.” ~Bonifer Ballard, Executive Director, Michigan Section, American Water Works Association (15:05)

Jump to 7:55 to hear Dru Mitchell, Clinton County Economic Alliance, give advice on working through your fears to make the next move.

Around 10:54 Julie Novak, Michigan State Medical Society, tells a story about why the question, “You’re a ghost driving a meat-coated skeleton made from stardust, what do you have to be scared of?” hit her so profoundly.

1 – Connecting through your network is important, but it’s ultimately up to you to get the job done.
2 – Make sure you’re saving bandwith for learning and keeping up with current trends.
3 – Thrive instead of survive by letting gratitude be stronger than fear.
4 – Be deliberate but flexible about what you do and where you are headed.
5 – You go where you look, and if you’re not looking, you’ll wipe out!

Direct download: Episode_49_WE_INVENT_-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

EP 48 - Bonnifer Ballard


In this episode, Bonnifer Ballard, executive director of the Michigan Section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) fills our cup with ideas on how adult learners are - and should be - critical consumers of professional development, what she thinks is meaningful educational content and where association deliverables are headed.


“I’m really interested in understanding how your worldview and your experience helps me understand my worldview and my experience better.” (7:58)

“One of the reasons that I follow PureReinvention is because it has forced me to start thinking differently about that association world.” (17:07)


Around 8:40 Bonnifer explains why she thinks storytelling is a powerful and effective method for adult learning.

Listen at 20:15 to find out why Bonnifer says it will be the bravest association leaders that will survive and how you can make sure you’re one of them.


1 - Quality development that builds you up to the next level in leadership and learning is worth the price of your time and money.
2 - As a learner, it is your responsibility to own the information you receive in order to turn it into something useful that you can apply in your world.
3 - Telling stories is a valuable way to share experience and knowledge, and the lessons are more likely to stick with the listener.
4 - Members are consumers, and their expectations for quality and meaning are rapidly evolving.
5 - The shifting concepts of association management require taking a different approach to the same services you’ve always offered, like member engagement and education.

Direct download: Bonnifer_Ballard_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Jodi Schafer Promo WEINVENT



In this show, Jodi Schafer, owner of HRM Services and co-founder of the PureReinvention Project, shares some amazing advice on how to make the jump from doing what's reliable and safe to what's untested and unknown.

Jodi tells personal stories and drops plenty of wisdom bombs that will have you rethinking what fulfillment really means and where you're headed next.

“Opportunities came along and I said yes even though I was scared.” (3:02)

“Sometimes you don’t realize you really were unsettled until you find yourself jumping toward something else.” (14:20)

Fast forward to about 8 minutes in to hear Mike ask Jodi for advice on how we can coach ourselves through the process when we take on something that we aren’t totally sure we can handle.

At 12:05 Jodi talks about fulfillment, and the feeling of searching for something more.

1 - Say yes to new opportunities and challenges even when you’re afraid or unsure of the outcome.
2 - If you find yourself still searching for something more, that means it’s time evaluate what’s next.
3 - Being unsettled is usually the first nudge to take a step toward change. 
4 - Build an intimate network of support from those you trust the most. Those people will be the first to question the limits you’ve imposed on yourself and help you break free from them.
5 - It’s ok to change paths and go a different direction. When you stop being fulfilled by one thing, scan the horizon for something new that speaks to you.

Direct download: Jodi_Schafer_WE.INVENTfinal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:48pm EDT

Jeanette Pierce Promo

There's no other way to say it: Detroit can give you first-hand experience and unforgettable lessons that will make you re-examine what you thought you knew - about the city, about reinvention, and about your every day experiences.

Jeanette Pierce, executive director of Detroit Experience Factory, has been letting the city be her teacher for more than a decade. In fact, she is living a reinvention lifestyle inspired by a place she has been familiar with since she was a kid.

There is so much to learn from Jeanette's story, like her approach to entrepreneurship and her passion for her work, we dare you to listen to this podcast and not be curious to learn more about what you can learn from the people, places and projects in Detroit.


“As much as I know about Detroit, I’m still learning stuff every day.” (7:05)

“We’ve had people come from all around the country to learn from the people, places and projects here - to see how we’ve (reinvented) outside the box...actually we’ve done it without a box at all.” (22:53)

Around 5:35 Jeanette talks about her experience growing up in Detroit and then returning after living abroad as a metaphor for discovering something new in a place where you thought you knew it all.

Jeanette has a really good description at 10:25 about why experiencing Detroit is something that “you can’t Google.”

Then at 18:35 she uses one of her beloved metaphors to illustrate how quickly change began springing up on the streets of Detroit, like popcorn.

1- Coming at an old idea in a new way (in Jeanette’s case, experiencing Detroit on foot) can give way to a new understanding of something you thought you understood.

2 - Adding realistic but firm deadlines helps motivate you to stay on track and keep working toward your goal.

3 - There is a difference between doing research and getting first-hand experience.

4 - Change usually takes on a popcorn effect; first it starts slow and steady, then begins popping faster and more sporadically.

5 - Detroit is a working laboratory for people who are curious about how to nurture a change-oriented environment with room to grow and do.

Direct download: Jeanette_Pierce_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am EDT

Elyse Kopietz PromoA collaborative team is a highly-functioning team. This is just one of the many wisdom-bombs you'll get in this episode from Elyse Kopietz, director of communications, marketing and events at the Michigan Manufacturers Association.

We sat down to talk to Elyse about developing an engaged team and how to give your staff the learning opportunities they want and need. She also has some really great things to say about PureReinvention's latest offering, WE.INVENT, an all-girls club designed to give women the space to find new reasons why.

Listen to the latest episode now.


“When you can build a culture that is open to change, open to people taking risks...that creates a great environment for pushing boundaries.” (9:50)

“When you work in a silo you’re limiting the opportunities for yourself.” (19:07)


Jump to 13:20 for Elyse’s useful ideas on how to maximize professional development for your staff and how that can translate to a greater ROI for your organization.

Listen to why Elyse says we are in a time where the customer likes to choose at 14:25 and what a personalized experience can do for an association.

Elyse offers some thoughts on women in the professional sphere around 21:30 and how PureReinvention’s all-girls club known as WE.INVENT is a platform for women to learn from each other through real talk about real experiences.

1- A culture that encourages risk-taking and vulnerability empowers staff to be active contributors.
2 - Leaders should try to fit the job to the talent they have while scanning the horizon for the next move.
3 - Engaged employees approach their work more creatively and are more willing to get the job done.
4 - Verbalize your thoughts - fresh input can shift the way you’re focusing on a problem and let in new solutions.
5 - Perform regular check-ups to make sure what you’re doing is providing value to yourself as an individual and for your team.

Direct download: Elyse_Kopietz_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Episode 44 - Cindy Bowen

We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Your weaknesses stop being a disadvantage when you allow others to fill in where you fall short.

Cindy Bowen, general manager at Crowne Plaza Lansing West and board member for the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association, believes diversity in experience and background helps create better outcomes.

BONUS MATERIAL! Cindy is also a member of PureReinvention’s Women Advisory Council, which has helped to create WE.INVENT. Around 19:15 Cindy talks about why she is a part of the council and gives you a preview of what’s planned for women interested in a reinvention lifestyle supported by other professional women. The first ever meet-up is Friday, October 23. Learn more.


“Now we feel our responsibility is to steward and shepherd the strategic plan and the vision..and hold each other accountable.” (10:43)

“In my early years, they talked about as a professional you need to identify your weakness and strengthen it. Now they say hire to your weakness and utilize your strengths.” (17:50)


At 8:15 Cindy tells a story from the board perspective about recognizing when it’s time for change and keeping a strategic focus.

Cindy is the incoming MLTA board chairman. Jump to 12:15 to hear her describe how she intends to take on the responsibility of keeping the momentum of the reinvention plan moving forward.


1- To stay relevant you have to make changes.
2 – Trust in the new space created by a different approach and reject the temptation to go down the old path just to get the job done.
3 – The board should act as keepers of the vision for change and guide the organization toward that vision.
4 – If you want a different outcome, connect people who have diverse experiences and backgrounds.
5 – Nurture your strengths, know your weaknesses and find other people that have different strengths to help you get your organization where you want it to go.

Direct download: Cindy_Bowen_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Episode 43 Steve Yencich Promo


Continuous improvement is the number one way to stay relevant to your membership or client base. It doesn't matter how long you have operated under your current patterns, you always have the choice to make a change.

Steve Yencich, president and CEO of the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association, has been practicing how to stay the course of continuous improvement to help lead his organization to new growth. He talks to Mike about what he has learned by going counterintuitive to old business patterns. 

Listen to the latest episode now.


“This planning process really empowered [the board] to start to look from that 20, 30-thousand foot level.” (4:48)

“If we don’t create an experience compelling enough...they’ll go somewhere else.” (11:12)


At 3:25 Steve gives a first-hand account of why it’s so important for the executive director to own a reinvention plan from the start.

Mike and Steve start to talk about how a feedback loop drives new behavior to stay in continuous improvement mode around 16:45. Listen closely to Steve’s clever approach.


1- Write your own plan and be accountable to it, even when it means accepting responsibility for the failures.
2 - Guard against falling back into old behaviors on a day to day basis.
3 - Good leaders are partners in the change process with their board, staff and other key stakeholders.
4 - Be willing to make course changes as you get new feedback while you’re connecting your plan to your audience.
5 - There’s a hidden opportunity in pulling old goals and objectives out of the mothballs to reinvigorate your core purpose.

Direct download: Steve_Yencich_-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT



PureReinvention Podcast 042

We have an extra special episode for you this week! The PureReinvention team recorded a podcast to tell you about how this project was created and why we always make time to connect with each other and grow the PureReinvention concept.

There's so much to listen for in this episode, pay attention to the fine points and where our story resonates with you. We hope you have as much fun listening to it as we did recording it! Don’t forget to drop us a line to tell us what you think after the show.


“Sometimes it’s just putting yourself in the way of the momentum to see how it pings off you and where it goes next.” (6:30)

“Once we were able to understand the why for PureReinvention, we were able to share that why with the rest of the world.” (12:15)

At 7:55 Josh describes how the PureReinvention lifestyle has become second nature to him.

Jodi talks about choosing significance over success at 12:35 and how that has played a major part in the continued collaboration of the team.

Don’t cut off early, because at 18:23 Mike introduces what’s next for the PureReinvention project and Josh describes how you can connect directly with the team while gaining first-hand experience in sustainable, change-oriented leadership.

1- Look for new ways to get in your own way especially when you feel like everything is going along as it should be.
2 - Decide whether you want success or significance, and what the difference between the two means to you.
3- If you hear - or are making - rumblings, make sure those rumblings collide with others that are experiencing similar waves of discontent.
4 - When you don’t know why or how you got to this point, pick your head up, look around and talk to other people. They are probably wondering the same thing.
5 - Don’t make every interaction all about business; the best discoveries are made when there is room to explore.
Direct download: PureReinvetion_Team_Episode_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Episode 41 - Deb Hart

The greatest reinvention stories are personal. This episode captures a conversation about change, personal growth and the power of getting out of your own way with mid-Michigan FM radio personality Deb Hart.

What makes Deb's story so great is that it's relatable, and she has done the hard work of extracting the lessons from her experiences so that we can all learn from them.


“It’s helpful to not have a judgement about it until you allow yourself to experience it.” (6:54)

“It’s exhausting to own our strengths and weaknesses; either we can change it or accept it - make peace with it. ” (13:25)

“We have teachers around us every moment of every day. I can learn as much from the guy standing behind the counter at the gas station as I can from a CEO, and I think it’s a mistake to believe otherwise.” (19:24)



Right around 10 minutes in Mike asks Deb how she balances what is in her control and out of her control. Her answer couldn’t be more on point.

At 16:50 Deb tells a story about how she took on a challenge to do something completely out of the ordinary for her and it led to a lesson she’ll likely never forget.


1- Surround yourself with a wide variety of people and learn from them.
2 - The best first step you can take toward reinvention is to open yourself up to the realization that maybe what you are doing isn’t as effective as it could be.
3 - Be open to what’s next, even if you don’t know exactly what is the next step.
4 - Seek opportunities to grow, learn and shine.
5 - Many times the barriers you believe exist are self-imposed. Let them go.
6 - You have the responsibility to create your own meaningful journey.

Direct download: Deb_Hart_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am EDT

Patrick Bero, Part 2



In the second part of our interview with Patrick Bero, CEO/CFO of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority, we get a better look at the business and financial side of Cobo’s reinvention.

Patrick shared a really interesting tidbit about the market demand for Cobo’s bonds being three times higher than what was available while the City of Detroit was in bankruptcy. Surprising, right? That’s around the 19:25 mark - but don’t just scan ahead to that! There is so much more to this story. 



“Long time customers tend to get taken for granted.” (3:55)

“If you embrace competition, that tends to keep you sharp. Organizations that try to shield themselves from competition are the ones that in the long run end up having more difficulty.” (20:57)



Patrick describes around the 5:00 mark how a shift in customer expectations pointed to an unsustainable business model.

At 14:55 we learn how Patrick helped transform Cobo’s headline risk into a reinvention story that allowed the DRCFA to meet the capital needs of doing business in an unconventional way.



1 -You can only cut back and reduce so much; instead commit your resources to things that will deliver a return.
2 - Establish a level of trust and transparency with your members/customers then demonstrate a commitment to those values every chance you get.
3 - An effective board offers fundamental principles and a strategic vision to enable staff to execute.
4 - Survey the market, and don’t forget to include the people who have taken their business elsewhere.
5 - Asking simple questions opens up the path to new solutions.

Direct download: Patrick_Bero_2_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

EP 39 - Patrick Bero Promo

Detroit and Cobo Center may seem synonymous, but Cobo has a unique reinvention story all its own.

In this episode, Patrick Bero, CEO/CFO of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority gives us an interesting account of Cobo's reinvention starting with a major disruption in the belly of the economic decline.

Patrick has a lot to say about what happened after the reality set in that there was no way Cobo could keep doing business the same way and remain in existence.

“[Political leaders] knew that the city didn’t have the resources to do what was being asked of them. And this was going to require a broader solution.” (5:22)

“It all starts from a crisis point. We had to clear a lot of hurdles to get to this point. We had to earn a lot of trust.” (9:28)

“Are you really going to just change the cosmetics and throw a little paint on something or are you going to fundamentally change the way you live and work every day?” (15:55)

At 5:45 to hear Patrick give the back story on how the five entities that make up the DRCFA came together to do things differently and rally around Cobo’s comeback.

Around 15:20 Patrick describes their struggle with whether or not to rename Cobo and why they decided to stick with it even though they had an image problem.

1 - It takes courage and leadership to admit it’s time for a complete overhaul even when you don’t know exactly how to execute it.
2 - Make a commit to transparency to build the trust of your market despite the desire to dress up reality for a more pleasing picture.
3 - Empower employees to do their jobs well by giving them the training and experience they need.
4 - A unified decision making body that is fully invested in the outcome can drive big results.
5 - Don’t just tolerate something when you can take action by demanding higher expectations and change the outcome.

Direct download: Patrick_Bero_Episode_1_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Ep 38 Bridget Russo Promotional Image



Bridget Russo took a big risk when she left New York to live in Detroit and devote herself to marketing Shinola's wristwatches, leather goods and bicycles that are assembled and sold in Midtown. But that's not the story she sat down with Mike to tell - although we think that would be a pretty interesting one! (Perhaps next time, Bridget?)

In this episode, Shinola's marketing director talks with us about why they couldn't resist making Detroit home base and how the company blends an authentic story with quality products to create a highly desirable brand.

Listen to the latest episode now.

“Everyone sort of said, you know what, it hasn’t been done before but let’s roll up our sleeves. What do you need us to do?” (3:34)

“There’s nothing wrong with embracing the past, but you have to look towards the future and be ready to change and be nimble.” (14:51)

Bridget explains why a strong story makes a brand more compelling to your consumer at 5:11.

Beginning at 18:30 she paints a terrific picture of creative connections linking automotive manufacturing to watch-making and the creation of a degree program in fashion accessory design.

1 - A great story will captivate your target market, but you have to follow through with a quality product.
2 - Embrace your history but don’t get stuck in it.
3 - Don’t just pile on products or services for the sake of adding; make sure what you’re offering provides a meaningful service that is useful to your consumer.
4 - Detroit’s creative space has an authenticity and resilience that is inspiring people, ideas and brands.
5 - A thriving, reinvention-driven culture has to be lived, not just talked about.

Direct download: Bridget_Russo_-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Josh Linkner Podcast, Part 2


Part two of our conversation with entrepreneur, author and venture capitalist Josh Linkner goes deeper into his ideas on change and concepts for effectively staying on top of the reinvention process. In this episode, get useful change agent hacks and good tips on making your business unusual in the best way possible.

If you have a question for Josh, PureReinvention will be moderating a Twitter chat with him next Monday, August 10, from 10:30-11:30 am EST. Follow #DLab and #ASAE2015 to be part of the conversation!


“That’s why people come to Detroit, to drive their own great art.” (4:25)

“All of us need to take the responsibility of being change agents.” (11:51)


At 7:10 Josh talks more about his encourage courage philosophy.

Jump to the 14:15 mark to hear him explain why it’s necessary to confront your standard way of doing things and find ways to disrupt it.


1 - Be the source of change instead of the need for change.
2 - Hack your process - tackle old habitats in an unorthodox way.
3 - Conduct change experiments; use controls and measurements.
4 - Take small bets toward big change to gain accelerated growth.
5 - Regularly confront previously held beliefs to test for a new or improved approach.
6 - If you’re not seeking change, it will be thrust upon you.

Direct download: Josh_Linkner_2_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am EDT

Episode 36 Josh Linkner

Josh Linkner’s most recent New York Times best-selling book (he currently has two), The Road to Reinvention, explores the idea that one of the most common—and easily avoidable— reasons communities, organizations and individuals fall is because they fail to reinvent.

This episode is the first part of a two-part conversation that Mike Bills had with tech entrepreneur, venture capitalist, keynote speaker and Detroit native Josh Linkner. In this segment, Josh talks about the trouble with resting on prior successes rather than driving purposeful transformation and the grit of Detroit that has lessons for us all.

“People want to extract the lessons [of Detroit]...people say ‘how can I apply that to my life?’” (8:09)

“To be an effective leader today, that rote memorization, follow-the-rule-book is just completely inadequate. What we need today is to train people to be creative problem solvers.” (11:23)

“If we can encourage courage, recognize that if we want great big breakthrough ideas we have to have a lot of bad ideas along the way to get there. ” (18:35)

At 9:28 Josh describes why Detroit is a learning laboratory.

Josh says reinvention is a very misunderstood word. Hear his theory about what reinvention really means around the 14:00 mark.

1 - The Detroit story is a very human experience, and it connects to your heart and to your gut leaving a lasting impression.

2 - The largest natural resource in your organization is human imagination.

3 - Find new points of differentiation by using the information that everyone has and figuring out how to position your organization as a unique solution.

4 - Build a culture that supports creative risk-taking.

5 - Failure is a part of the process and should be learned from instead of punished.

Direct download: Josh_Linkner_1-_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

Episode 35


The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Annual Meeting 2015 in Detroit is just three short weeks away. And we think the international audience that this event attracts is going to get more than they bargained for by coming to the City of Detroit.

In this episode, Mike Bills and Misty Miller highlight a conversation with Renee Lewis, CMP, about reinventing the conference experience and why Detroit is a destination like none other.

“As a meeting planner you’re always looking for what the best rates are for the organization, what’s the best space, do they have my dates available, but the other part of that is that your members experience the destination.” (6:02)

“I guess you could make some changes and say you’re reinventing, but at the same time you’re not always solving the issue.” (11:18)

Renee tells a story from her past at the 9:40 mark about redefining a conference experience by boldly questioning the organization's core offerings.

At 18:18 Renee sums up why this year’s ASAE Annual Meeting participants will learn something special that they can’t get anywhere else.

1 - Detroit as a destination is rapidly evolving to offer fresh, engaging and unique experiences beyond the breakout rooms and exhibit hall.

2 - Letting go of stale education models that no longer serve your core audience keeps your organization relevant and in-demand.

3 - Detroit’s comeback gives conference goers a first-hand look at how sustainable change can be applied in a fluid system.

4 - Look for barriers that seem immovable, and figure out how to redefine them to be an asset instead of a road block.

5 - The PureReinvention team can help meeting planners build one-of-a-kind content for their next meeting in Detroit based on the lessons of successful local business owners, organizations and individuals that are redefining and rebuilding the city in real time.

Direct download: Rene_Lewis_-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Lacey Thompson copy

This is a unique time in association culture when there could be four or five generations working toward the same mission. Lacey Thompson, events manager at the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Lansing, is always looking for ways to build on the foundation of the yesterday while sprinkling in the technology and learning styles of today.

In this episode, Mike Bills and Lacey talk about how incorporating tech into the delivery of your communication and education systems helps members better relate and connect to their association.


“The internet has just always been around for us. If I need something, that’s where I go. [Millennials] are just trying to get members to...live off technology more.” (3:25)

“If you don’t know how to do something, you YouTube it!” (9:44)

“The personal touch is key, interact one-on-one with them and you find out stuff...you learn from them.” (15.39)


Jump to 8:37 to hear Lacey’s take on why there is still value in face-to-face meetings for Millennials and others who connect online first.

At 17:30 Lacy shares a great story about how she and her CEO Cindy Kosloski worked together to understand the needs of a member who was thinking about letting her membership lapse.

1 - Millennials are teaching older generations how to explore technology and use it to connect with members in new and different ways.

2 - Personalize everything you do. A thoughtful comment or gesture can go a long way.

3 - Sharing association news in efficient and friendly ways makes members feel more connected to association leadership. HBA of Greater Lansing uses their Information Minute videos to highlight association news in less than 60 seconds.

4 - Even when you connect on social media or through email, it doesn’t replace the need for face time.

5 - Blend old and new delivery methods for your education and content to keep members engaged while still remaining reliable.ted for the long haul.

Direct download: Lacey_Thompson_-_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

Cindy Kosloski and Jim Magnotta

Alignment between an association's Board and the CEO can be a very powerful thing. Cindy Kosloski, chief executive officer of the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Lansing & Jim Magnotta, HBA of Greater Lansing board president and founder of Magnotta Builders & Remodelers, have found the sweet spot between strategy and execution.

In this episode, Mike Bills gets to sit down with Cindy and Jim for a really interesting conversation about how they are working together to “tinker with tradition” and what they are learning along the way.

“Our members are very proud of our association and tradition is so important to a lot of them, to tinker with that is very hard for them to accept.” (7:50)

“Most executives are going to try to take actions that have a high probability of success. But that’s not what we’re going to do here with reinvention. You have to be ready to accept failure on a fairly regular basis.” (22:35)

At 10:50 Cindy and Jim talk about their experience with including board members in the reinvention process from the beginning.

Listen at 15:20 as Jim explains his plan for sustaining change long-term at the board level, and keep listening to get Cindy’s perspective on what that means for her in the CEO role.

1 - Reinvention requires a considerable amount of risk-taking. Not all of your ideas are going to be home runs. Be fearless anyway.

2 - Allow disruptions to be a learning opportunity, not a brick wall.

3 - Invite core decision makers to be owners early on in the process. They will more than likely offer different insight and be more committed for the long haul.

4 - Respect the traditions but look for creative ways to improve them. It’s possible to remain steadfast to your mission and still make change.

5 - Focus on what’s important and give that to your members or customers. A simple product or resource done well is better than an elaborate, confusing offering. looking for ways to make them better.

Direct download: Cindy_Kosloski_-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:07am EDT

Even the most set-in-stone edifices can be reinvented. Just ask Thom Connors, Regional Vice President and General Manager SMG/Cobo Center. Thom sat down with Mike Bills to talk about Cobo Center’s five-year renovation project.

Thom shares really interesting details about the catalyst for change, some roadblocks along the way (like not getting a ballroom on the roof!) and how Cobo Center connects visitors and residents in a cool way.


“We just can’t replace what we have with the same thing.” (9:27)

“The transformation of Cobo mirrors the transformation of the City of Detroit.” (11:35)

“You will be successful when you have the right mix, mesh and mass of activity.” (22:03)


At 7:25 Thom talks about the major disruption that forced political leaders of the time to seek sustainable change for Cobo Center and how the plan was set in motion.

Mike asks Thom around the 15:20 mark to describe how ASAE 2015 participants can see and experience Cobo’s reinvention while they are attending the Annual Meeting.



Take Aways


1 - This is the second reinvention of the Cobo Center.  The first one was in post World War 2.  It was one of the first convention centers in the US and opened as Cobo Hall in 1960.


2 - Cobo Center is now run by a regional authority which is connecting state and regional governments as a unified governing body to run the center.


3 - This regional authority appointed SMG, a facility management company, to run Cobo Center and turn around the balance sheet.  By 2025 they plan to break even as opposed to a 20 million annual deficit they encountered when they took over.


4 -  Cobo Center has served as a major connector to downtown businesses.  


5 - The new Cobo Center has been remodeled using an “adaptive reuse” strategy.  They used what they had within the facility and updated it with new technology and a modern ballroom to meet changing needs.


6 -  The new 120’ by 30’ video board will help connect activities in the Center to the surrounding area.


Direct download: Thom_Connors_-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT


“If we’re not going to talk positively about Detroit, why would anyone else?”

Detroit Zoological Society’s chief operating officer, Gerry Van Acker, has been driving change by asking simple questions and really listening to the feedback he’s getting from various and diverse entities.

In this episode, Mike Bills taps into Gerry’s wisdom on how to break down a seemingly gigantic undertaking like helping reinvent a major city into realistic, executable tasks. As you listen, ask yourself how you can apply some of what the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center have been doing to your own industry.


“When [Detroit] was struggling...it was pretty evident that the city needed to go through a process where they could hit the pause button and reset.” (3:15)

“A challenge in downtown Detroit [was] that there were individual assets in neighborhoods that were fantastic, but the connectivity wasn’t great...Now you’ll see connectivity.” (15:30)


Gerry makes an interesting point at 8:35 about the zoo as a gathering place. As you listen, consider how your organization connects people and serves as a gathering place. You may find inspiration in his story about collaborating with another major summer activity in Detroit instead of competing with it.

Gerry breaks down the zoo’s very simple core culture at 13:05, and his philosophy on why it’s important.

Stay tuned at 19:42 to hear Jerry’s message on why ASAE attendees will enjoy visiting Detroit and what they should be on the lookout for while they’re in the city that’s reinventing itself before their eyes.


1 - Simply asking your customers what they want is an effective way to improve your services and offerings.

2 - Cultural institutions and associations alike are undergoing changes that allow them to play an important role in providing an outlet for social engagement.

3 - Effectively incorporating multimedia and new technologies can enhance the user experience and improve customer interactions.

4 - Stick to the basics that you know you can do well, and look for opportunities to maximize that core.

5 - Finding ways to blend or leverage other established events can enhance value for all collaborators.

Direct download: Jerry_Van_Acker_-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

PureReinvention Podcast 030

How are you getting your needs met? How are you meeting the needs of others? That's just a little food for thought brought to you by this week's guest, Julie Novak, CEO of the Michigan State Medical Society.

In this episode, Mike Bills talks with Julie about spanning generational gaps, decoding the need for change and how to keep it all moving in one direction.



"The changes in the world have caused a change in the need for a membership to connect to an organization.” (4:28)

"It’s hard work, it’s scary, I have to get out of my boundaries all of the time, but that’s caused me to grow as a person.” (10:45)



Julie explains around 14:10 that one of her roles is to act as a translator. She interprets data and metrics in different ways so she can fully understand it first, then to illustrate to staff and other key stakeholders the need for fundamental change in the organization.

Jump to 22:30 to hear Julie forecast how she will keep the momentum of change moving and what she thinks is an important asset for sustainable reinvention.



1 - Reinvention is state of mind, not a finite process.

2 - An outside navigator makes you accountable for working through the hard questions instead of bypassing them. They also tend to have an impartial point of view that reminds you take the all-important helicopter view.

3 - Embrace the signals the association is giving you. Collect and apply data about your membership needs and translate it to actionable change.

4 - Be aware of the realities of your board members, as a volunteer body they aren’t immersed in the day-to-day work. High-level summaries and timely recaps help them stay focused and strategic.

5 - Reach out and talk to others. The majority of industries are undergoing tremendous shifts and it’s important to know you’re not alone.

6 - Be intentional about carving out down-time to reflect and recharge. It makes you a more effective leader!

Direct download: Julie_Novak_Interview_-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Innovation begins with why. In his book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek says, “All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year.”

Aaron Wolowiec, founder and president of Event Garde, helps organizations keep their why clear and execute their why through innovative learning experiences.


"Often times associations think about the benefits they offer but don't dig deeper past the surface level to really understand what their root cause is; what they're meant to do." (3: 50)

"It's incumbent upon us to research, to read books, to attend programs and to develop as learning professionals so that we can further understanding within our own associations." (14:09)


Listen in around 6:00 as Aaron recalls the turning point when he realized focusing on logistics wasn't enough to make an outstanding learning experience for conference attendees.

Aaron shares his predictions for the future of face-face meetings at 15:25.

At 25:30 get a preview of an innovative learning and networking activity Aaron is helping plan that connects ASAE 2015 participants to the host city – Detroit – in a different way.


1 – Sticking to the traditional approach that you have inherited isn't going to serve today's conference attendees demand for an authentic experience.

2 – Associations and individuals have many options for learning and networking opportunities, effective models are different and unique.

3 – Intentionally creating a loose structure around networking time helps conference goers focus and get more out of the face-to-face meeting time.

4 – True learning happens when attendees can apply the information they get in a conference setting back in their offices.

5 – Whether it is designing an impactful conference experience, seeking more depth in networking opportunities or leading change within your organization, you will be more effective when you understand and start with the why.

Direct download: Aaaron_Wolowiec_-final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

PureReinvention Podcast Episode 028

Dan Gilmartin, executive director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League, talks to Mike Bills about how the City of Detroit is creating a new, better reality and how organizations can do the same.


Episode 28 - Dan Gilmartin Promo


“When it comes to innovation...we have a tendency to innovate when we’re in crisis, and we innovate at the edges of our own competencies.” (2:25)

“Detroit is beginning to embrace its grittiness, and embrace the fact that it is kind of the ultimate DIY city right now.” (10:25)

“Not everyone has to get into a Detroit situation before they change.” (11:43)




At 11:10 Mike asks Dan how association leaders can give people permission to innovate and he offers some really good advice.

Listen in at 17:20 as Dan tells people visiting Detroit to “find the energy” and highlights some of the compelling grassroots movements that are happening in the city.



1 - Detroit is more of a organic bottom up example of reinvention, not process and top down approach.  This process is wholly transferable to other communities.

2  - Detroit’s struggle with changing times may be more public than others, but it is not unique. Many individuals and organizations are in the same spot and need to rally together to embrace the new.

3 - A crisis isn’t the only time to be seeking change. It’s okay to create a little chaos in the face of stability.

4 - Employees have to share the vision and own their part of it if in order to be successful.
5 - When you move out of your comfort zone and into different spaces, you think differently and bring something new to the table.

Direct download: Dan_Gilmartin_-_51815_8.56_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Spencer Johnson, President of Michigan Health and Hospital Association, shares his thoughts and wisdom with Mike Bills about continuous learning and keeping his finger on the pulse of the industry he serves. 



“There’s nothing that works as well as being out in the field and talking to your members.” (4:25)


“You have to be on your feet, you have to be alert. Change is constant.” (10:38)


“All of us are smarter than just one of us.”(24:35)



Jump to 8:15 to hear Spencer elaborate on a quote about continuous improvement that guides him and his decision-making process.


At 16:00 Spencer breaks down what he believes are the three key groups in associations and why they are important.




1 - Associations have a great deal of influence over public policy and advocate for their members and the industry they serve at state and federal levels.


2 - Associations have many ways to connect with members, but it’s worth going the extra mile to make face-to-face connections with them on their own turf.


3 - Earning the respect of those you lead as well as other leaders will help you build a positive reputation that you can leverage to make change.


4 - Foster a team attitude. Sometimes the assists are just important as the big plays.



5 - Dont be distracted by endless process.  Have a bias toward action.

Direct download: Spence_Johnson_-_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:03pm EDT




PureReinvention Podcast Episode 026


Andi Osters, Social Media and Brand Coordinator at the Michigan High School Athletic Association, talks to Mike Bills and Misty Elliott about her decade of experience growing up in the association industry.



“You’ve got to learn how to monitor first. You need to understand the history before you can make a change.” (6:52)


“I’m not sure association management is as clear of a profession as we need it to be to sustain what [associations] have right now.” (16:00)



Around 13:00 Andi explains how being nimble and examining old processes frees up leaders and associations to find success.


Make sure you listen to Andi’s insight around 20:30, where she makes a thoughtful assessment of how residents in Detroit are taking risks to reinvent the city.



1 - Impactful leaders will help individuals grow by giving good direction and setting achievable goals that allow staff to take ownership.


2 -  Eagerness to take on new projects and reinvent old processes is a good thing, but it’s wise to temper that ambition with careful assessment and monitoring before forging ahead.


3 - Stay nimble and aware of the current climate so you can adapt to serve the changing needs of your customers.


4 - Associations can learn from Detroit business owners and stakeholders that are taking risks because they believe in the city’s and the people’s ability to change.


5 - Be curious, even if it feels a little dangerous. It will help you discover unexpected things and, in Andi’s case, a delicious restaurant.


Direct download: Andi_Osters_-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Amy Frankmann, Michigan Nursery & Landscape Association


This is the most honest, personal and captivating episode we have to date. Amy Frankmann, Executive Director of the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association talks to Mike Bills about her journey from questioning whether she was in the right line of work to becoming a leader her colleagues seek out for insight and problem solving.


“[Creating space] is not about time, as I learned. It’s actually looking at everything in a different way. Like stepping outside the association’s front door and looking in.” (7:20)

“It’s about finding the opportunity, instead of going in and doing your job and not allowing the interaction with others [to happen].” (11:00)

“Every meeting I went to, even if it was for 5 minutes after the meeting with a leader I had identified...I would find somebody and talk to them. And I would come out of it with one great thing.” (12:10)


At 9:10 Mike asks Amy how she was able to transition from being heavily involved in the day to day processes to stepping back and using her time differently. Her answer is the best advice any executive could have for how to create more connections.

Mike and Amy have an ‘aha’ moment around 17:00 about how the process sometimes inhibits the product. Keep listening as they talk about how barriers to growth and success are not in the marketplace.


1 - It doesn’t have to be lonely at the top! When you find the courage to share your difficulties and experiences with your peers, they are often empowered to admit similar things.

2 - Being exposed as not knowing it all is the number one fear executives talk about time and time again. But once you put it out there, you attract a network of people that want to connect, share ideas and work together to figure out the challenges you’re up against.

3 - Intentionally step outside of your day-to-day grind to get a different perspective on how you, your staff, and the organization are doing things. Where can you move pieces around to get a better outcome?

4 - Asking questions everywhere - in committee meetings, with staff, at lunch with a colleague - can move you from being overwhelmed and paralyzed to finding new and different approaches to the same challenges.

5 - Creating space for new opportunity does not have to be a significant time commitment. Assess how you are using the time you have and put yourself in the position to get fresh insight.

6 - As a leader, don’t be afraid of giving up a little control over staff output. Let them shine and excel and your products and services will shine and excel.

Direct download: Amy_Frankmann_-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am EDT

Stan Smith, Pushing Social



Stanford Smith, CEO of Pushing Social talks about leading the charge for Detroit Metro CVB’s social media efforts, with a keen focus on telling the real story of Detroit to a worldwide audience.  

In this episode, Stan’s passion for the platform as a conversation tool is impossible to ignore. He also shares a lot of helpful tips on using social media effectively along the way.

“Detroit is a city that shows tremendous resiliency, tremendous creativity, and I wanted to be part of telling the new story of the comeback city.” (4:50)

“All social media is doing is scaling the conversation and making it profitable.” (10:40)



Around 5:45 Stan offers associations some really good social media advice. He says the competitive advantage is in how you’re telling the story about the future of your industry.

At 15:00 Stan explains his vision for showing the world why Detroit matters. Listen through 18:00 to hear him describe a social media methodology known as the hero’s journey that associations can put into play.



1.  The strategy behind social media is as old as the campfire. It’s all about good conversation and telling stories.

2.   Three key questions can guide your social media strategy. What is our story?  Who is our audience? How do we tell it?

3.   Listening is just as important as posting on social media. Engage your followers and fans then listen and learn from their feedback.

4.   Keep your message simple. Stick to your story and passion.

5.  The social media strategy for #ASAE2015 will be to illustrate to outsiders why Detroit matters. The focus will be on the people and strengths of the City of Detroit.

Direct download: Stan_Smith_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Hello PureReinvention fans!

We can’t wait for you to listen to this episode. It's a very interesting conversation between Mike Bills and the president and CEO of the Clinton County Economic Alliance (CCEA), Dru Mitchell.

Mike and Dru talk about working together to dramatically alter the way the CCEA was doing business, how Mike’s role as a navigator was really important in defining their new direction, and Dru’s experience as an executive working with her board to move forward together.

“I wanted [the board] to be exposed to the process using the five steps and how that can -- currently, and in the future -- be revisited to address how Clinton County Economic Alliance could be the solution to business-related issues in the county.” (3:45)

“Our plan now drives how I spend every day...and what activities my attention are directed to; it helps me focus. (8:00)

Tune in around 8:50 to hear MIke ask Dru to describe the non-traditional way they approached the initial assessment phase and how the strategic report was prepared for the board.

At 13:00 Dru talks about how important it was for her to write and present the report to her board and key stakeholders.


Direct download: Dru_Mitchell__-_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:30am EDT

Donna Inch, chairman and CEO of Ford Land and chairman of Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau talks with PureReinvention’s Mike Bills about Detroit’s comeback, aligning key leaders and executing a vision.

Donna Inch Promo Image copy


“Go back to the basics, get the fundamentals right...and then build.” (2:40)

“If you don’t have that teamwork approach...if you can’t get that alignment, it just doesn’t happen.” (6:18)

Jump to 9:45 to hear Donna expand on how city leadership recognized it was time for a change and how collaboration has led to incredible progress for Detroit.

At the 17:00 mark Donna has a message for ASAE annual meeting participants headed to Detroit in August.

1 – Aligning key leaders creates tremendous momentum to execute your vision.

2 - Breaking down barriers to progress, especially antiquated cultural behaviors, paves the way for growth.

3 – Developing multiple attractions or assets for your audience establishes ongoing, sustainable growth.

4 – Generating excitement around your vision nurtures the ownership of key stakeholders.

5 – Incorporating rich history into your reinvention strategy builds credibility.

Direct download: Donna_Inch_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

A navigator is an important part of the PureReinvention process because he or she provides the accountability to see the job through. This person not only actively keeps the process on track, but teaches you how to own the experience so it can be repeated for future success.

In this episode, Mike and Misty chat about the valuable role of the navigator and why good leaders know when it’s time to bring in outside help.

PureReinvention Navigator


“You spend enough time “figuring it out” you become resistant to other people helping you...Yet, the best leaders have the capacity to ask for help.” (1:48)

“You have to understand where you are today, where you want to be tomorrow and then figure out the navigation in between.” (9:05)

Go to 3:30 to hear Mike talk about learning out loud.  If you explain your idea to 10 people, do they understand it?

At 8:50 Misty describes the role of the navigator to bring informed experience, and knows that the navigator recognizes that the answer lies in the process.


  1. The best leaders ask for help.
  2. There is more growth potential, and in turn more opportunity for success, when you bring in an outside perspective to help find solutions.
  3. A good navigator builds trust with key stakeholders and provides a safe place for any idea - good, bad or outrageous - to have full consideration.
  4. When you are looking for a navigator, look for someone with direct experience that can offer informed guidance.
  5. A navigator provides accountability and gives an objective approach to the reinvention process.
Direct download: Mike_and_Misty_Navigator_-_4415_4.37_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

In this episode, Mike Bills interviews Mark Wallace, President and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. The Detroit riverfront has been key in the ongoing reinvention and revitalization of Detroit.

This interview tells the story of the Detroit Riverfront and how the Conservancy has played a big part  in developing this significant city asset.

“Every major city in the US was founded near a waterway...for (hundreds of) years the Detroit Riverfront was a place where industry happens and goods and services come and go. In the past ten or 11 years we’ve radically transformed that.” (3:17)

“We’ve provided a gathering space that’s really meaningful for our community...I think the other thing we’ve done in terms of moving the region forward is we’ve demonstrated leadership in public/private partnerships.” (14:00)

Around 4:15 Mark elaborates on the process that lead individuals and organizations recognize it was time to repurpose the way residents and visitors were interacting with the Detroit River, and how the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy came to be.

Jump to the 10:00 mark and listen as Mark shares a story about a visiting executive that illustrates how remarkable the transformation of the riverfront has been.

1 – Reinvention takes vision, time and persistence. The redevelopment of the Detroit Riverfront has been more than 11 years in the making.

2 - Even though something has served the same purpose for a long time, there are always ways to put it to new use. The Detroit River was primarily an industrial waterway for hundreds of years. Today, it’s a beautiful, useful space for visitors and residents to gather and experience the area in a new way.

3 – Reinventing one major component typically results in change to additional products or services. Since the redevelopment of the riverfront, many nearby businesses and neighborhoods have began to grow and change.

4 – Creating a meaningful gathering space draws diversity and new supporters. Now that the riverfront’s breathtaking views and modernized space can be enjoyed in a clean, safe environment more and more people are coming to enjoy it.

5 – Enlisting collaborators from multiple sources paves the way for an idea to develop into a tangible asset. The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy sought out public/private partnerships to maximize the growth and development of the riverfront as a shared asset for various stakeholders.

Direct download: Mark_Wallace_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

In this episode, Mike Bills and Misty Elliott of the PureReinvention Project discuss the final fundamental of PureReinvention – Move.

“If we’re really measuring movement, it comes at the end of the process where we actually have a sale, an experience that’s been delivered.” (2:12)

“The really important part of harmonizing movement is in recognizing when one movement starts to ebb and we start to put new, emerging movement in place so we have a rhythm of movement.” (5:49)

At the 1:10 mark Mike breaks down how the other four fundamentals of reinvention - disrupt, own, simplify, connect, move, are required pre-work in order to actualize your plan and move it forward.

Around 4:35 Mike and Misty talk about how most movements begin in a very fragile state until they find momentum through nurturing and risk-taking.

1 -  None of the pre-work is meaningful without ultimately putting the ideas into action.

2 - Measurement and data collection inform your movement and give you information to gauge your success and further direct your plan.

3 - Movement is the last part of the process because it is created through the sale, or the experiential delivery of your ideas.

4 -  Talking about doing something, and taking steps toward doing something, is not the same as actually doing it. Movement is in the doing.

5 - Keep your expectations in check, and acknowledge - even celebrate - the times you move the ball in the right direction.


Direct download: Foundation_5_-_Move_Mike_and_Misty_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Associations today aren’t your grandpa’s association. They have changed and need to continue to change to carve out relevancy in the 21st century.

PureReinvention’s Mike Bills talks with Mike O’Callaghan, chief operating officer of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, about his long-time experience as an association member and leader; what has changed and what remains the same.


New Episode 18 Graphic





“The good old boys - if they don’t pay attention to what’s happening around them - are all of a sudden going to get lost.” (8:15)

“It comes down to some soul-searching and looking within, and really analyzing what is it that you provide? Why would someone want to get involved?” (17:20)


This is such a great interview, there are a lot of interesting places to dig in. We’ve pulled out a few must-listens, but highly recommend finding the time to absorb this podcast from start to finish. During your drive to work, perhaps? Start with these:

At 7:30 Mike Bills asks O’Callaghan how he thinks associations need to change to remain relevant today. Then, around 12:50 they look at the value of diversity in associations as an intentional choice and compare it to how associations can learn from Detroit’s forced need to diversify to survive.

Later, O’Callaghan talks about how major industries in the City of Detroit - auto, entertainment, banking - are now learning to work together and help each other succeed. Jump to 18:20 to hear his thoughts on how associations can follow that example by co-mingling with other groups to identify new solutions for members and the organizations that serve them.

1 - Association membership is a powerful tool for the development of an individual by connecting them to a greater body of institutional knowledge.

2 - Associations need to give people a good reason to get involved today - not hang its hat on what worked yesterday.

3 - Continually asking yourself and key stakeholders “What’s next?” moves your association from just surviving, to thriving.

4 - We need to move to more proactive thought in managing associations so that we can be better prepared for the next economic challenge.

5 - Choosing to engage with other groups before it becomes required for survival can bring new assets and perspectives to the process.


Next week:  Mike and Misty talk about the fifth fundamental of PureReinvention - Move.

Produced by Will Carlson, WillPower Consulting

Direct download: MIke_OCallahan_Part_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

In this episode, Mike Bills and Misty Elliott of the PureReinvention Project talk about how the fourth fundamental - Connect - creates the space for innovation and thinking differently.

“A lot of the answers to what associations and business were looking for were already inside, we just had to look at them in very different ways. It really wasn't about new stuff, it was about how to connect things in new and different ways.” (0:36)

“Connect can only be as good as an individual or association's ability to network new and different thoughts together and weave a whole other set of circumstances.” (4:42)

At 1:53 Mike explains why connecting old ideas in new and different ways drives your core value forward.

Listen around 4:50 as Misty talks about how the connection phase starts to really feel like reinvention.


1 - It’s not always about creating something new, it’s connecting your old ideas and behaviors in new and different ways.

2 -  Ideas are just intelligent guesses until they are connected to your target audience to see if they can be actionable. Connecting your original ideas to the feedback will inform how you move forward.

3 -  Intentionally seeking diversified thought makes your final product or service stronger.

4 - Connect is the most multi-layered phase of reinvention. This fundamental teaches that you need to be regularly connecting ideas, people, products and services in creative and unusual ways.

5 - The first three fundamentals - disrupt, own and simplify - stabilize the reinvention process so when you are ready to connect your discoveries to your realities you will become more aware of the changes taking place.

Direct download: Foundation_4_-_Connect_Mike_and_Misty.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Detroit's comeback has been hard-fought and very public. The city's reinvention has great potential to serve as a real-time case study for other cities, businesses and organizations facing decline and a strong need to innovate.

In this episode, Mike Bills interviews Mike O’Callaghan, chief operating officer of Detroit Metro CVB and Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association board member, about his observations on Detroit’s reinvention.


“Fortunately now, there has been some excitement about the city and there’s reason to come back here.” (3:50)


“The city was so heavily dependent on the auto industry. When things are good they’re great, and when things aren’t so good they’re really terrible.” (5:37)


“At the end of the day it’s all about choice. Deep inside of us we know where we want to go, and in some cases it’s a matter of being brave enough to do it, because there’s always risk.” (15:50)



Around 10:00 O’Callaghan talks about the opportunity in having diverse industries for the City of Detroit, much like associations, that allows for balance when one industry fails.


At 16:20 the topic of PureReinvention’s fourth fundamental - Connect - comes up. Listen as O’Callaghan explains why connection is critical to Detroit’s past and future success. Keep listening through 20:45 to learn how that same fundamental is being applied in the design of the upcoming ASAE annual meeting happening in Detroit in August.



1 - Don't rely so much on just one thing. Like Detroit’s mistake of placing too much emphasis on the auto industry, associations need to step away from the outdated model of having one or two primary offerings for members.


2 - Adding diversity to your offerings provides a greater chance for success and creates possibilities where none have been identified before. 


3 - Seek answers to your problems internally - within yourself and within your organization. It’s the people closest to the process that can help you find strengths and build upon them.

4 - Connecting ideas, needs and opportunity is necessary in any reinvention. For Detroit, connecting goods and services to other communities and industries has opened doors to a more comprehensive experience for visitors and residents alike.
Direct download: Mike_OCallahan_Part_1_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Are you your own worst enemy when it comes to simplifying the process? Many people layer on new tactics and ideas to fix their problems when what they really need to do is simplify.

In this episode, Mike Bills and Misty Elliott discuss PureReinvention's third fundamental - Simplify.

Episode 15 -Foundation 3


“There are so many options, so much you can add on to make things bigger, better, stronger, faster, that you forget to cut back and simplify... Most people think improving means adding another layer of paint.” (0:50)

“When we’re trying to do everything for everybody, that’s an impossible task.” (5:33)

Right in the beginning, around 1:38 Mike and Misty examine how thoughtful reduction helps you guide your unique value proposition.

If you want to reinvent your organization, you have to walk the walk. At 9:25 listen to why building reinvention into your organization’s culture starts with behavior.

1 - Simplifying allows you to discover real solutions by examining the core.

2 - Applying thoughtful reduction to problem solving can help tear away the clutter to reveal your unique value proposition.

3 - A complex problem can be broken down into smaller, simpler elements to make the reinvention process more manageable.

4 - Effective leaders should have the endgame in mind, but still be able to simply communicate the task(s) at hand to get there.


Next Week:  Mike O'Callahan, Chief Operating Officer, Metro Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Direct download: PureReinvention_Foundation_3_-_Simplify_-_21715_5.17_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

 Get a behind the scenes look at why one association decided it was time to reinvent and how they made it work. Guest: Dirk Milliman, Owner of Milliman Communications and member of the Michigan Press Association Board of Directors Co-hosts: Mike Bills, owner and CEO of MB Strategies, and PureReinvention founding member Misty Elliott DIG IN Near the beginning of the interview, around the 2:30 mark, Dirk describes how the composition of many boards today have shifted from a group of owners to a group of employees and why that changes the direction of the board. At 6:50 Dirk explains what disrupted Michigan Press Association and made the board recognize it was time to change course.


“{Board meetings] turn into a lot of brainstorming. Lots of good ideas. “Let’s do this, let’s do this.” They key is - who is the ‘let’s’?” (3:00)

“We certainly can’t do it the way we’ve been doing it. So let’s figure out a better way to do it.” (8:40)

“You can’t cut yourself to health. You have to grow.” (18:50)

“I think sometimes in our quest to solve problems we put too complicated a solution in place.” (25:49)

Main Take-Aways: 

1 – “Purposeful” disruption – Disruption with ownership is vital in the reinvention process.

2 – Ownership changes the way a person makes decisions that affect the organization.

3 – Successful teams push each other and ask meaningful questions and view the problem from an owner’s perspective.

4 – We have to work hard to simplify every aspect of the process.

5 – The role of a third party navigator is very important to bring stakeholders together and to help the owners approach the problem from a different angle.

Next episode:  February 23, 2015 Mike Bills and Misty Elliott discuss the third pillar of PureReinvention - Simplify.

Produced by:  Will Carlson, WillPower Consulting (www.williamrcarlson.com)

Direct download: Dirk_Milliman_-_21315_12.37_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

How do you take ownership of new projects? In our latest podcast, Mike Bills, owner and CEO of MB Strategies, and Misty Elliott, one of the founding members of the PureReinvention project, discuss the second foundation of PureReinvention – Ownership.


At the 1:50 mark Mike explains how ownership builds accountability.

It’s normal to feel apprehensive when you’re taking ownership of a reinvention plan because of the unknowns. At 5:57Misty and Mike talk about working through reservations when you need to take ownership of something new or different.


“Owning disruption allows you to fully understand the problem.” (2:25) 

“As we take ownership of the direction rather than ownership of a specific function we’re able to then accept what we know and we’re also willing to accept what we don’t know.” (7:39)

Main Take-Aways: 

1 – Disruption without ownership is counterproductive. 

2 – Taking ownership allows you to fully understand the problem or situation that needs changed.

3 – When you own the process, you become invested in finding a solution.

4 – There is a degree of risk in ownership that might be uncomfortable, but the discomfort is what pushes you toward reinvention.

Next episode:  February 16, 2015, Mike Bills and Misty Elliott interview Dirk Milliman, Owner, Milliman Communications.

Produced by: Will Carlson, WillPower Consulting (www.williamrcarlson.com)

In this episode, Mike Bills, Owner and CEO of MB Strategies, and PureReinvention Founding Member, Misty Elliott interview Josh Lord, MBA, of Josh, Inc. and Director of Membership and Strategic Initiatives, Michigan Dental Association about disruption and the need for modern associations to respond to market demands.




“I think we really need to look at ourselves as a staff and as an organization and realize that we are likely too close to our own business to be able to solve this on our own and what we really need is a reinvention strategist.” (7:24)




The bottom line is the great recession and the technological innovations of the early 2000s have dramatically re-landscaped the environment that were in, and yet the ones that are leading our businesses right now, are adhering to paradigms that frankly no longer exist. (5 :35) 



 I think typically when we talk reinvention, road blocks get put up because we think cost, expense, disruption, change - its all negative.  What we fail to recognize is opportunity, collaboration, mutual benefit, and relationship development.  Theres a lot to be said for collaborating not only with a consultant or and external resource, but with your competitors. (17:34 )


Main Take-Aways:


1 Big brands are defining the purchasing experience And expectations of your target audiences.  Improved customer service and access 24-7 is expected.


2 Current association culture is not lining up with this experience and is in danger of being replaced by organizations that will meet these expectations.


3- Associations need to focus on the next 3-5 years.  They need to align with new customer expectations quickly if they are to stay relevant.


4- Associations need to value and listen to the disrupters in their ranks so that they can make the necessary changes to meet these expectations. 


5 An external outside resource may be necessary to help the reinvention process along as staff and leadership can be too close to the issue.



Next episode:  February 9, 2015, Mike Bills and Misty Elliott will discuss the 2nd Foundation of PureReinvention - Ownership



Produced by:  Will Carlson, WillPower Consulting (www.williamrcarlson.com)

Direct download: MIke_and_Josh_Interview_WIth_Misty_Summary.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT


In this episode, Mike Bills, principal at MB Strategies and founder of the PureReinvention Project, discusses the first of five fundamentals of PureReinvention – Disruption.




“As an association leader, do you really value disruption in the growth phase? Do you really value a disruptor?” (4:09)




“In the association world, are we going to be disrupted, or are we going to start to create some sort of disruptive force?” (3:25)


“Before we can make any sort of relevant change inthe reinvetnion process, we first must value the role that disruption plays.” (4:43)




1 –We are creatures of habit and like to keep things the same, but it’s important to realize that not all disruption is bad.


2 – Disruption with purpose is the opportunity you need to allow for the next growth phase.


3 – Boards tend to place a higher value on not creating disruption – preferring to get along rather than seek diversified thought.


4 – Many of us haven’t been trained in how to create, and manage, disruption, even though it is critical for new growth.


5 – The city of Detroit has been dramatically yet positively disrupted through its bankruptcy and the subsequent rebound it is now experiencing.


Next episode:  February 2, 2015, Josh Lord, MBA, Director of Membership and Strategic Initiatives, Michigan Dental Association


Produced by WillPower Consulting (www.willliamrcarlson.com)

Direct download: PureReinvention_Pillar_1__-_12315_5.29_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

In this episode, Mike Bills, principal at MB Strategies and founder of the PureReinvention project, talks with Jim M. Nicholson (Vice-President, PVS Chemicals Inc.) about the current reinvention of Detroit, the value of others coming to Detroit to see reinvention in action, and what it will take to sustain the reinvention process going forward.


Jim Nicholson, Part 2 Graphic copy



Around 4:11 Mike asks Jim about when Detroit stopped operating at peak performance. Jim says simply Detroit failed to work for its citizens, and they moved away. Listen to this segment and consider it through the lens of association work. What happens when associations stop operating at peak performance? Can you see how associations would benefit from using Detroit as an example when working through challenges?


Meaningful change happens beyond the core. Jim postulates that Detroit residents are going to continue to leave if leaders don’t build a better value proposition and support their quality of life. As you listen to this, think about how Detroit’s experience relates to membership within your association. How are association leaders building a better value proposition to retain members? (14:30)



“The challenges of the constant outflow of people...got enough people to say enough is enough.” (6:30)


“Political inertia kept [Detroit] from changing...But the political leaders of the time finally found the guts to say, ‘We need to make this change happen’ and they did. What it did for the community was change the paradigm.” (9:20)


“It is our role as leaders to try to create the conditions where people want to make investments.” (24:08)




1 – Reinvention requires a long term commitment.  Detroit’s problems developed over many decades, and its comeback will likewise develop through the next decade. Expect the reinvention process to take time to become lasting change.


2 – It’s important to understand the measurements you use to define success. In the case of Detroit, people living and thriving in the neighborhoods are the ultimate measure of successful leadership. What defines success for you? For your association?


3 – Building the infrastructure to sustain your citizens is key. People living in Detroit, much like your members, will leave if they don’t feel like their needs are being addressed and served.


4 – Defining clear priorities is critical to creating momentum for reinvention. Don’t get caught up in the real estate at the expense of the vision.


5 – A realistic vision that is shared by consumers and stakeholders is a necessary ingredient for success. Leaders must be part of the community and have credibility with the people.


Next episode:  January 26, 2015, Mike Bills discusses the first of the fundamental five concepts in the reinvention process: Disruption.

Produced by:  Will Carlson, WillPower Consulting (www.williamrcarlson.com)

Direct download: Jim_Nicholson_Part_2_Final_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Are you wondering what this PureReinvention thing is all about? In this episode, Mike Bills, principal of MB Strategies and founder of the PureReinvention Project, offers some background on how PureReinvention got started and looks ahead to what you can expect in 2015.


"We want to build this community of individuals who are using PureReinvention as a resource. A group of people who are willing to share and want to learn from each other." (1:07) 

"While we may be saying today, "this is what we know," you have to remember we will learn new things tomorrow. That's the really cool part about PureReinvention, it's an ongoing, ever-changing very dynamic process." (4:42) 



How was PureReinvention created? At 5:48 Mike tells you how needs and insights from different industries collided to form a model for the reinvention process. 



1 – PureReinvention is about collaboration and sharing stories about the ongoing reinvention process. 

2 – Look for the PureReinvention Position Paper by the end of the month. This paper will outline the fundamental five steps in the PureReinvention process and be available to you for free. 

3- PureReinvention has many applications to different types of people: 

• Board Members - PureReinvention requires active participation, ownership and leadership at the Board level.  There is a difference in Board roles and their leadership in the responsibilities and execution of this process. 

• CEO – Responsible for driving the process. 

• Employees - Have a huge stake in the outcome and must have ownership in the process. 

• Member/Owner – Are the beneficiaries of reinvention, and should have the most vested position of all. Input must be continuously sought from this group must express their needs to make the process work. 

4 – Association chief staff executives (CSEs) will have the opportunity to engage in PureReinvention at the Michigan Society of Association Executives' ORGPRO conference in June. Plus, you can catch us in Detroit for the American Society of Association Executives Annual Meeting in August.

5 – Your input, comments and questions are what make PureReinvention possible! Connect with us and tell us know what you want to know about.

Direct download: Podcast_Episode_9_Mike_PR_Overview_-_11015_2.46_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

In this episode, Mike Bills, principal of MB Strategies and founder of the PureReinvention project, talks with Jim M. Nicholson, vice president of PVS Chemical, Inc. and former chairman of the Michigan Manufacturers Association, about the role of individuals on the board of directors, board leadership and association culture.


At 6:50 Jim says the biggest barrier in associations today is cultural momentum. He talks about how legacy and history cause associations to struggle with change and what key leaders need to do to help turn that around.


At 8:58 Jim identifies a behavioral example of cultural momentum getting in the way of success.  “The formula for attracting membership for most associations has been the same for a long time. They typically have their membership recruiting strategies firmly planted in the 70s...What you don’t see enough of is getting out and being interpersonal with your membership.”

At 17:34 he explains how the board can support and nurture a more dynamic  association culture. “The Board’s real role is to point out the obvious. If you point out the obvious, the CEO has to respond to the obvious.”

 In a hurry? Click here to read the top takeaways from this podcast now.


Direct download: Jim_M._Nicholson_Part_1_Final_-_1215_2.45_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:38pm EDT






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