Spring is a time of opportunity, full of new potential and energy. Perhaps that’s what makes it the perfect season to host the annual Greater Omaha Young Professionals Summit. Hopefully many of you were in attendance and walked out with the same jolt of enthusiasm and connectedness as I did. It’s candidly one of the reasons I return to the YP Summit each year. If you’ve yet to attend or haven’t attended recently, it’s that sense of momentum that will draw you in or back in, I’m certain.
As an Omaha native, the city can feel like a warm, cozy blanket, full of lifelong friends and family. I decided to issue myself a personal challenge at the YP Summit, to get (slightly) uncomfortable and connect with young professionals outside my personal circle.
The open table seating for the lunch hour perfectly facilitated this interaction. I was able to meet new young Omahans, each with their own interesting story. As Ari Shapiro later implored, it is important that we connect in this way, perhaps now more than ever. I chose to actively connect, despite any initial uncomfortableness. It was incredibly rewarding to meet new people, and to share our respective stories. I challenge you to do the same, to seek out the uncomfortable and connect, for it is a great way to grow and strengthen ourselves, as well as our city.
Mayoral candidate Heath Mello asked the audience how many people in attendance were Omaha natives. I was stunned by the number of individuals who were transplants to Omaha. Perhaps it means seeking out these newcomers in our workplaces and our city, and connecting with them by asking them to lunch, happy hour or coffee. Relocating can prove to be challenging. Maybe we need to work harder to welcome and engage our newcomers. Perhaps it is choosing to connect with some of the 11,000+ refugees who have made Omaha their home in the past ten years, through the work of many local agencies.
Perhaps it is getting involved some way in the ongoing city elections, to determine how Omahans will connect going forward. Or perhaps finding a new corner of our fair city to connect with and explore, like the burgeoning Old Town Elkhorn, Florence or Vinton Street neighborhoods.
Whatever your challenge, seize the momentum of the YP Summit. Feel free to connect with me @kyle_mcginn and hope to see you at the next YP Summit on March 1 2018!