A Month Away From Madison

Guest post from Michael Fenchel of 7Cees. Michael and his team recently departed Madison on a 1 year journey around the country in a mobile-bus-studio.

I’ve been away from Madison about a month now on a journey across the country with 7Cees’ mobile bus studio. Even in just that short time I’ve begun to realize things about Madison’s incredible community that I often took for granted having lived there for almost all my life.

There’s an incredible wealth of intelligence in our city. We have great schools and universities, a growing start-up scene and some of the best tech minds in the country. Every other week it seems Madison pops up in some national ranking, like Forbes’ 3rd best city for Young Professionals or Men’s Health’s most educated city in the country. No big surprise.

Being known for smarts is cool, but in my opinion what’s really remarkable about Madison is that its gifted people don’t act ‘special.’ They drive the same cars (or, more likely, ride the same bikes) as anyone else and generally you’d never know that your neighbor invented the Bucky Ball or the woman next to you in line for a beer at the Union won a Pullitzer. Madison’s talent understands that real ability doesn’t lie in people knowing how good you are but rather in quietly and consistently performing. As I travel and meet many ‘high-caliber’ people, I’m finding that’s a rather rare quality.

Madison’s down-to-earth and open community is where its potential for continued growth and success lies. It’s amazing how much just the fact that the person working at the coffee shop has a quick-witted response can keep you sharp and constantly learning. Couple that consistently stimulating atmosphere with an environment of smiles and acceptance and you end up with a breeding ground for innovation.

On top of generating innovative ideas, Madison is becoming an ideal spot for getting them off the ground. Living and start-up resources are cheap especially if you know who to talk to (hint, they run this blog…) and as I’ve elaborated human resources are everywhere (get an intern program like Entrustet’s with students from UW- worked for me). Plus since it’s still a relatively small pond it’s pretty easy to get noticed.

There are of course some factors of ‘impending doom’ that could jeopardize the beautiful balance Madison has achieved. A city goes through a lot of stress as it breaks the 500k population barrier, especially during a recession and in an extremely divisive political atmosphere. I think so long as we stay focused on what we do best- performing at high levels and being open and kind, Madison will continue to thrive.

I can’t wait for November 8, 2012 when our 7cees team rumbles back in to town, bringing our experiences with us to the place that helped us get on our feet from day one both as humans and young entrepreneurs. Madison and all the people in it, we miss you. Thanks for making Madison our favorite place on Earth.

The 7 Cees