By Don Rush

In case you didn’t know one of the things I do is co-host a local business networking group. We — Mark Kelly of MPK Photo and I — call it the ever-lovin’ Clarkston Coffee Club. You can find out more about this small business group by visiting our webpage But that is not what I’m writing about today.
It’s only the middle of February and I could wax on philosophically about Valentine’s Day, but today I am writing about my theme for this year at the Coffee Club — that theme is getting back to the basics. At the Coffee Club this means getting back to presenting an elevator speech; a quick, concise one minute presentation of who you are, what you do, what you’re looking for and a tagline (if you got one). I suppose “getting back to the basics,” however, can mean different things to different people.
To an educator it might mean putting more emphasis on the basics of critical thinking brought upon by reading, writing and ‘rythmetic. To a parent it might be less about smothering little Johnnie and Suzie’s teachers with how wonderful their own kid is, and more about smothering little Johnnie and Suzie with love and yes, sometimes that means “tough” love.
To some in business, it might mean doing things “the way we always do.” But, I don’t think that’s what it’s supposed to mean. In the business world, getting back to the basics means getting back to doing stuff entrepreneurially versus managerially.
A manager has his or her place, but managerially they try to produce the same or more, with less (we all know the manager who’s penny wise and dollar dumb). Their job is tied into the status quo. They work hard to maintain versus grow.
An entrepreneur on the other hand, takes risks, tries different approaches, products and ideas all to make more money and profit; and with more money and profit comes more ability to provide for his or her family and then the community at large. Of course, an entrepreneur knows every endeavor has a risk of not succeeding and that failure is just another part of learning how to succeed. Sometimes that risk can hurt financially.
In local government I like what Independence Township has done to get back to the basics. They have thought outside of the box. Their electeds came to the conclusion the best way to govern is to govern an educated constituency. They are continually reviewing what has been done in the past and working on a better future — and they are keeping their community in the know each step of the way.
Each month they send out The Independence Times to nearly every single address in the township, residential and business. This is a four-page spread in their local, community newspaper. They are getting back to basics by communicating and being open. If residents of Independence Township don’t know what’s going on in that township, it isn’t the fault of the local government. I think all townships and villages and cities should try this.
And locally, to get back to the basics, it is incumbent on all residents to pay attention to their local governments.

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Back to basics for a community paper? It’s my belief a good newspaper not only reports on what is happening (good and bad, triumphs and tragedies, everything — warts and all), but it also needs to engage its readers.
A community newspaper needs to ask questions not only of officials, but of the common folk. One of the things I’ve tried to do this year is to use Facebook to generate conversation in the community. For example, in Oxford I asked, “On Monday’s strategic meeting of Oxford Village the idea of becoming a city was brought up. Okay, Oxfordites — what are your thoughts on this?”
We received 34 comments, the post was shared a couple of times and we had over 1,600 “engagements” (Whatever that means).
I think we — as the local source of news and information — need to use all the tools available to feel the pulse of the community. (Of course one problem with the social media tool is not everybody is local and there are the “jokesters” out there who just want to muddy the waters with “pithy” commentary.)
For me — personally — “getting back to the basics” means all of the above. I think I need to be more entrepreneurial, more giving, less confrontational authoritative and more mentoring. While I should hold fewer grudges and be more forgiving, I should also go into every endeavor with eyes open and not blindly naive.
It is time to get back into the communities, reach out to classrooms and service groups, do more talking, make more presentations. Shake more hands and shake more things up. It’s time to use what I know to better myself and my future. What? Think about retirement? Yep, I reckon at 57 it’s about time I think about putting more into savings and that means getting back to the basics of self reliance.
What does “getting back to the basics” mean to you? I’d like to know. E-mail me your thoughts to:

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