‘I’m moving to California’

By Brock Stechman

Too many talented young people in Kansas City make the mistake of uttering those words. Here’s why they shouldn’t.

“I have to get out of this town. There’s just not enough for me in Kansas City. There’s nothing to do here and I need more opportunities. I’m moving to California.”

Those were my words 15 years ago. I decided to move to California to attend college and was certain I was never coming back. Well, shortly after college and spending some time on the West Coast post-graduation, I returned to my hometown.

There’s just something about Kansas City that feels like home and it quickly drew me back. For starters, opportunities for someone young to hit the ground running and establish a career more quickly than in other cities. There is a long list of successful entrepreneurs, creators, entertainers and innovators that built their legacies here. There’s also a strong sense of community and pride Kansas Citians have in helping others succeed. I wanted to be a part of that and knew this was the right place for me to build my digital agency and start a family. And I’ve never looked back.

Of course, there are plenty of canned responses for why living in Kansas City is a smart decision. Most of us know about the low cost of living or that it’s a great place to raise a family. Or that the values, work ethic and integrity of Kansas Citians are the best.

Here’s why you should live and work in Kansas City.

I’ve been a small business owner for the last decade and have always had to sell the unique perks of working for a small company to employees. When you work for a small company, the more you put in, the more you get out of it. You have the opportunity to make a tremendous impact and play a vital role in its energy and growth.

It’s not as overwhelming to share an idea, get involved or con- tribute—you feel like your ideas matter. Being a part of something on the ground floor is incredibly intoxicating and fulfilling. It’s an opportunity that young professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs should take advantage of.

And you can, more than ever, in Kansas City.

That sense of being able to have an impact is gaining momentum here, and Kansas City is beginning to realize the true potential it has. And for me, that’s the greatest appeal of Kansas City. Within the next two or three years, Kansas City is positioned to establish itself as one of the most influential and highly regarded cities in the country. It’s stock and reputation are on the rise, and that’s extremely exciting! How can anyone not want to be a part of that?

It’s the perfect time to get involved, establish yourself and capital- ize on the opportunities and ultimately build your own legacy. With the current resurgence of Kansas City, there is something special brewing and you do have the ability to actually make a difference.

It’s a simple recipe to get established and make an impact in Kansas City.

  • Get involved
  • Ask for help
  • Help others
  • Work hard

The beautiful thing about KC is that it’s very accessible and easy to build a successful career here. But you have to get involved. There are so many networking groups and opportunities for young professionals. Make it a priority to attend as many networking events as possible. You can even form your own networking/ meetup group and people will show up to support you. It happens all the time here.

The next ingredient is to ask for help. It’s easier said than done, but you must get out of your comfort zone. If you need help with anything, just ask someone for it. If there’s someone you admire and look up to, then invite them to lunch and ask if they would be willing to be your mentor. I have a specific group of people whom I highly respect, trust and know they are looking out for my best interests and want to see me succeed. They also know I will always return the favor when they ask. So, anytime I need help with something, I reach out to them. Their support is invaluable.

Other people need support as well. Immerse yourself in the community and donate your time and skills in philanthropic activities. Don’t just give back in an attempt to get something in return—trust me, you will get far more back than you put in. Things come full circle when you give back unselfishly in a city like this. People notice good deeds and will appreciate your dedication. They will go out of their way to make sure you are recognized for all the hard work you do. Doors will start to open.

Finally, work hard. A tenacious work ethic is the key to being successful. Obviously this is relevant anywhere you live, but Kansas Citians have built a reputation for being hard workers. They understand that nothing is given to you— you have to earn it, and they respect that. Hard workers do not go unnoticed here.

If you go all in, entrench yourself in Kansas City and help others along the way. I promise you, this town will take care of you and good things will happen!

About the author

Brock Stechman is founder and chief executive officer of Brockton Creative Group, and co-founder of DivvyHQ and Local Ruckus.