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






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