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How to be a 'Start-Up City'


By GovFresh · May 25, 2016

Former Chicago and District of Columbia transportation head Gabe Klein highlights eight lessons leaders should follow when building innovative approaches to better cities in his book “Start-Up City.”

These include accepting failure, managing by metrics, budgeting creatively, always believe there’s a way, focus (aggressively) on marketing, branding and communications, cultivate public-private relationships, plan for external disruption and how to address them when they arise.

He also addresses the importance of regulatory hacking for disruptive entrepreneurial ventures.

Much of the anecdotes are transportation-heavy, leaning on Klein’s background, and at times it reads like a personal pitch for him to be the next U.S. Department of Transportation secretary (he should be), but it’s still a great playbook that encapsulates how to unify a team, change expectations and, as he says, “get sh*t done.”

Key quote:

I have written this book to inspire the next generation of "public entrepreneurship," a start-up paced energy within the public sector, brought about by leveraging the immense resources at its disposal. At the same time, we need corporate America, and start-up America, to embrace "social enterprise," working for the common good, as their primary objective versus external shareholder wealth. Combining both of these into "social entrepreneurship" allows us to move beyond public and private silos and focus on using our collective energy to solve the world's problems, regardless of your vantage point or chosen profession at the moment. To be successful in business in cities today, you need to align your goals and values as much as possible with those of city government and citizens as opposed to with profit alone. Such entrepreneurship has the potential to engender the next level of public-private partnership and give rise to new models of shared financial reward working in the interest of the greater good.

Listen to Klein’s interview with ELGL on the GovLove podcast:

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“Start-Up City” on Amazon