Beyond the Talk : The Real Work Starts After Our Day of Celebration on June 29

By Gary Davies // Saturday 23rd of April, 2016 // 11:15 AM

One of the toughest parts about launching a brand new program with all the complexities of Best of Calgary is having the patience to let the various aspects roll out to the citizens of our fair city.

For most Calgarians, when we launched Best of Calgary on Feb. 25 it likely seemed like it was little more than a rolling survey of questions focused on over 100 different categories. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that we announced the development of a Best of Calgary showcase event on the evening of June 29th that would celebrate the best this city has to offer in the areas of arts, culture, music and entertainment.

And shortly thereafter we announced the development of a day of discussion, in advance of the evening event, that would focus on five big picture topics that would help make our city a better place in the future.

We launched ticket sales last week for all of the above and our goal is to put between 800 to 1,000 people into the seats of the Jack Singer Concert Hall on June 29th. But we don’t want people to leave our day of discussion with thoughts in their heads, but no action items in their calendars.

At the end of each session – whether we’re talking about ways to encourage business innovation or whether we’re discussing how to capitalize on our Year of Music – we plan to leave our attendees with a specific action item to follow up on. We’ll be taking names and contact information for those who want to pursue certain topics and see ideas come to fruition. We will be holding each other accountable to our tasks when we all gather again next June to celebrate our successes from the past year.

How will we achieve these goals? By bringing people together through the fall and spring. By assigning tasks. By encouraging change and ensuring it happens.

Another piece to the overall Best of Calgary concept is the development next year of a high school mentorship program. Through our partnership with the Calgary Foundation, we will be creating a Best of Calgary flow-through fund that will see us work with a non-profit to develop a program that will bring together high school students with Best of Calgary category winners.

Whether selected students wish to become the next great restauranteur or pursue a career in robotic brain surgery or develop the trendiest new retail store, we will endeavour to match them with Best of Calgary business owners who can show them the ropes and open their eyes to the opportunities in their own city.

Our end goal will be to encourage more young Calgarians to pursue their career dreams in their hometown, and not feel that they have to escape to Vancouver or Toronto or New York. We want Best of Calgary to be the catalyst to keep more young talent in our city.

These are just a couple of ways that we’re developing the Best of Calgary program above and beyond a simple survey and the publishing of those results. There will be more promotion and development of these ideas in the weeks and months ahead. We just wish we could shout them from the rooftops already.

Gary Davies is a co-founder of Best of Calgary