Linchpin, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love OTR

A month ago, my boyfriend and I unintentionally took a real estate tour of what I'd previously considered to be the scariest part of Cincinnati: Over-the-Rhine. (It was a pit stop during an architecture tour.) Last week, we put a bid on our dream home. I'd like to talk about my major attitude shift, and how it coincides with a book I just devoured.

First off, the book. I've finished Seth Godin's Linchpin-- he offered advance copies to people who made a charitable contribution to the Acumen Fund. (Nice.) I ordered it because Godin has written a number of other books that relate to marketing (my field)... but this one leans much more toward self-help. It's as much about marketing as it is about teaching, piloting, plumbing, you name it.

In Linchpin, Godin talks about how people become indispensable... how they go above and beyond their jobs, their day-to-day, the expectations people put on them. I couldn't read it without thinking about OTR's Gateway Quarter and the people I've met in the past month. For instance, from Godin:

The only way to get what you're worth is to stand out, to exert emotional labor, to be seen as indispensable, and to produce interactions that organizations and people care deeply about.


If you can be human at work (not a machine), you'll discover a passion for work you didn't know you had. When work becomes personal, your customers and coworkers are more connected and happier. And that creates more value.

After that eye-opening architecture tour, Dan and I started walking around the Gateway Quarter. What I could not help but notice was that every shop owner talked to me-- not (only) about the sale of the week, but about the neighborhood, their families, local events, you name it. It was easy to see that their shops were more than jobs to them-- there was passion and knowledge that I've never seen in the suburbs.

And as I engaged social media to connect with people, places and businesses in the area, I couldn't ignore the fact that every person I came in contact with knew almost everyone else I'd already met. Tenants connected me with developers, entrepreneurs recommended restaurants. They wave to one another in the streets and there are more tweet-ups happening than I can keep up with.

The community that is working to develop the Gateway Quarter in OTR is comprised of linchpins-- people who are overcoming the expectations of the rest of the city to create something positive and powerful. From Godin again:

Emotional labor is the hard work of making art, producing generosity, and exposing creativity. Working with a map involves both vision and the willingness to do something about what you see.

There is an astounding vision and an undeniable passion in Cincinnati's Gateway Quarter, and I can't wait to be a part of it. Furthermore, I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and seeing how I can help add to the humanity, the generosity and the creativity that sets OTR so far apart.

Gateway Quarter:
Seth Godin's Linchpin: Amazon link


5chw4r7z said...

I was trying to get a point across on twitter last week but it didn't come out right. I said as journalist put down bloggers, they were missing the point of blogs.
While a journalist may observe their world, I feel like I, and it looks like you guys also are exerting our will on our world and remaking it in what we feel our ideal is.
Does that make sense? Sometimes its hard for me to articulate those thoughts.

Congrats on the new condo, looking forward to running into you two on the street, we're up at Park+Vine and Outside constantly, I'm sure we'll cross paths.

redrabbit said...

It does make complete sense to me, 5chw4r7z. I think there's room for both a journalist mentality as well as a blogger mentality, but if journalists aren't willing to be flexible and see the way things are changing, then the new world order will quickly move them out.

Thank you for the congrats. I saw on FourSquare that you were at Outside the other day-- hope we cross paths in that area soon! (Though I've worked within spitting distance of Parker Flats since it opened and haven't bumped into you there...)

wyominglax said...

After reading the Enquirer article on Sunday I was thinking about how Cincinnati needed to commit to changing the perception of OTR. Now I know from reading your perspective that government can't do what dedicated neighbors with passion can. I hope more follow your lead.

redrabbit said...

One of the things that Dan and I talked about-- and friends and new neighbors later echoed-- was that someone had to be the first.

Now I am nowhere near the first to take up the heart of this project, but if I had seen someone like me walking down the streets of OTR more often, maybe I would have been less afraid. So I want to be that person, and as you said, hope others will follow my lead (as I am following others' leads).

5chw4r7z said...

We're up in the Q often, but Parker Flats, I don't home until close to 6 and you're probably long gone from work by then.
If 3CDC had started renovations in the area a year before they did we would definately be up there, but we signed a contract on PF back in '05

George "Loki" Williams said...

I see a certain similarity between the OTR and some of the flooded out neighborhoods back home in New Orleans. The perception problem, coupled with some verifiable issues, creates an aura of fear around the area.

What needs to happen is that the true vibrancy of the neighborhood needs to be thrown into sharp relief. There might be a few cues that could be taken from my colleague Rex's venture NOLA Rising (google it and you'll find all kinds of news coverage as well as his websitesite)

CincyVoices is developed to be a megaphone shouting this sort of cause to the internet. If you ever have a desire to do a guest post there about your thoughts and experiences you are most welcome to do so, just drop me a line.

Loki, CincyVoices Founder + Northside Resident

redrabbit said...


That's an interesting parallel you draw there. Something to chew on.

I'd love to write for your blog, any time you want. Drop me a line at redrabbit [at] gmail, and let me know what kind of topic you'd like me (or Dan!) to write up.


P.S. Northside is awesome. :)

theboilover said...

So glad you guys are going to join us in tha 'hood. I've been here a mere 2.5 years and the change in the area has been incredible. And it's only going to get better.

And Linchpin sounds like a good read!

redrabbit said...

I really enjoyed it! Pick it up!

rickyabache said...

Good comments on Linchpin Redrabbit which saw when posted my own review on Squidoo. Have also done video review myself over on Viral Leadership TV Would love to get your comments as newbie video blogger.

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