You Snooze, You Loose – Missed Opportunities, Lessons Learned, and Hard Knocks

A quick visit is all it takes to tell if a town or village is

possessed of a sense of community, is progressive and forward thinking, and if it has a vision for the future,  or if it is riddled with apathy,  indifference, self serving factions, and leadership focused on the rear view mirror.  Take a drive through town, hit the historic business district, and then take a couple of laps through neighborhoods. Skip the fast food joints and stop at a local diner or tavern, be a fly on the wall and listen. Pick up a local paper (or read the on line edition) and be sure to read the editorials as well as the comments.

My dearest friend captured this moment of contemplation during a winter outing in Arizona.

Today’s post isn’t meant as condemnation. It is a bit of a soapbox sermon inspired by thoughts and reflections as I gear up for this mornings conference call with the Route 66: Road Ahead Partnership economic development committee. It is also an expression of frustration.

As many of you know, my dearest friend and I call Kingman, Arizona home. Located at the heart of a wonderland of vast and diverse landscapes, and at the center of the longest remaining uninterrupted segment of Route 66, the town has, perhaps, the greatest undeveloped tourism potential of any community in the southwest. This boundless opportunity is magnified by a location on the western edge of the “Grand Circle” that is the premier destination in the southwest, and the fact that within 400 miles of Kingman there are ten million people with interest in mountain biking, camping, spelunking, fine dining, off road exploration, wineries, colorful festivals, ghost towns, museums, white water rafting, classic car events, Native American culture, the Grand Canyon, and hiking along shade dappled trails.

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Wait, Don’t Order Yet – Somewhere Between Ronco and PBS

Marketing, slogans, catch phrases, and promotion, have always

been a source of fascination for me.  See the U.S.A in your Chevrolet. Ask The Man Who Owns One. No Hill To Steep, No Sand To Deep.  The art of the sell at its finest.

Before trying to sell you on my latest book, an explanation is needed. I tried my hand at selling used cars many, many years ago and quickly learned that it simply wasn’t in my nature to convince a potential customer that a Pinto was what the family needed when they wanted, and desperately needed a station wagon.  There is an art to selling and selling in such a way that the customer leaves happy.  Still,  if I sell a fellow a three legged race horse when he is looking for a mule to pull the plow, chances are that I am going to have a bit of trouble sleeping at night.  And I would bet money that when it comes planting, there is no association between my name and fond memories.

With said, let me introduce you to my latest book, and make you an offer that will be tough to refuse. In a nutshell this book is a bucket list  for the novice or hard core Route 66 junkie, a list of must see sites, attractions, and places where you can enjoy great pie. I can guarantee that if you hit all 100 of the places listed, you will have had an unforgettable Route 66 adventure, met some fascinating people, made life long friends, and be hopelessly in love with a road that has an international fan club.  (more…)

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A Survival Guide For The Modern Era
Evolution and the ability to adapt to changing times is crucial if a business is to survive. Photo courtesy Mohave Museum of History & Arts.

A Survival Guide For The Modern Era

There is an old adage that the two certainties in life are

death and taxes. There are, however, two more adages that you can bank on. One, times change, whether we like it or not. Two, it is up to you to create the survival guide for the modern era and to keep it updated. In short, adapt and learn to adapt or face the consequences. You can bet money that the best blacksmith in town had fallen on hard times by 1915 if he hadn’t added automobile repair to the services offered.

Fred Harvey Company Touring Coach 1918
By 1918 the Fred Harvey had adapted to changing times by adding touring coaches as a means to ensure hotel properties remained profitable. Courtesy Mohave Museum of History & Arts.

The Fred Harvey Company pioneered development of hotel and restaurant chains. They didn’t, however, rest on their laurels after dominating the railroad hotel business in the southwest. They developed tours, added buses, and began marketing to tourists traveling by automobile.

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As an author I have, with a degree of success, made the transition from typewriter and carbon paper to word processor. Marketing, a crucial skill for the writer that is going to transition from hobbyist, is another matter. There are indications that I have been somewhat successful in regards to shameless self promotion. As an example, yesterday I learned that Route 66: America’s Longest Small Town is going into a second printing even though the book was released this past April.

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SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION, GOLDEN OPPORTUNITIES,  AND SHARING THE WEALTH
This view of Beale Street in Kingman, Arizona is courtesy the Mohave Museum of History & Arts.

SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION, GOLDEN OPPORTUNITIES, AND SHARING THE WEALTH

Before you ask, I haven’t won the lottery. An uncle did pass away last year

but he wan’t wealthy, and he didn’t include me in his will. As to treasure, last month I found a 1939 dime in my change, and acquired a promotional brochure for Dinosaur Caverns (now Grand Canyon Caverns). So, you may ask, how do I intend to share the wealth? What, exactly, are the golden opportunities alluded to? To explain that, I will need to start with a bit of shameless self promotion.

First, I am taking to the road again. On July 22, I will be signing books and the new DVD at Autobooks-Aerobooks, 2900 Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank, California. There are other tentative appearances in southern California that bracket the one in Burbank but these are awaiting confirmation. I will provide dates, times, and locations as soon as possible. Also, please feel free to contact me to schedule an appearance; a book signing, a presentation, or both. For the 2017 season I have created a presentation entitled Kingman, Arizona: 120 Years of Tourism. 

The presentation may seem a bit narrow in scope. However, as it includes tales of Louis Chevrolet, Buster Keaton, and Clark Gable, political intrigue that resulted in the rerouting of a highway, and the arrest of a celebrity for indecent exposure, I am confident that you will find it interesting.

One more. In April, two new books with Jim Hinckley in the byline were released. To be a bit more specific, it was one new book, Route 66: America’s Longest Small Town, and an expanded version second edition, Ghost Towns of the West. In September, 100 Things To Do On Route 66 Before You Die is scheduled for release. At the end of May, the first DVD in a new video series, Jim Hinckley’s America: A Trek Along Route 66 was released. Signed copies of books are available through this blog, and the DVD, with autograph and Kingman, Arizona souvenir, is available through Promote Kingman. When inquiring about book orders include zip code, totals and payment options will be included in the response.  (more…)

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The Thirty Hour Workday, Mayhem, and the 6th Earl of Cottenham

I have always had respect for people who can focus on a project

with such intensity that nothing distracts them from the task at hand. Obviously this trait is a prerequisite for people who work as bomb disposal specialist or as a sniper. I have never had interest in pursuing either career but the quest for a level of mental discipline that allows me to finish projects without enduring thirty hour work days resultant of succumbing to distraction is ongoing. This is not to say that my pursuit of the red ball is abandoned when I see a green ball, or that the smell of fresh baked pie will always lure me from the office to the kitchen if a deadline is looming.

Scheduling and allocation of time is definitely an Achilles heel. In this I am not alone but that provides little solace when my most recent language skills test indicates a 21% proficiency in German, a 1% increase over last summer, and the venerable old Dodge (aka Barney the Wonder Truck) is still sitting in the drive awaiting repair, just as it was last Christmas.

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The Speed Bump Theory Applied To Community Development

Every community is plagued by self serving factions, apathy, naysayers, and

people who simply never learned to play well with others. In communities where these people dominate government or the tourism office or media or civic organizations, opportunities are missed, long term sustainable progress is stifled, and vision for the future is conceived through extensive study of the rear view mirror. Spend an hour or two in a town, city, or village where these type of folks run the show, listen to the locals in the restaurants or taverns, check out the historic business district, cruise a few neighborhoods, peruse online reviews of businesses and there is a very good chance you won’t make a return visit.

So, exactly, how is a community transformed from a haven for the apathetic and people obsessed with protecting their fiefdom into a vibrant place where people want to visit, to open businesses, to raise families, and to retire? Let me introduce you to the speed bump theory of community development. (more…)

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