Tuesday, March 10, 2015


The exploding growth of social media has significantly changed the way people communicate at home and at work. Social media applications include sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Wikipedia, YouTube, Twitter, Yelp, Flickr, Yahoo groups, Wordpress and many more. Not only have social media changed the way we communicate, but these applications present great opportunities for businesses in the areas of public relations, internal and external communications, recruiting, organizational learning and collaboration, and beyond.
Public officials at all levels must embrace social media or risk becoming irrelevant. Social Media is our "digital life." Social media are information-based tools and technologies used to share information and facilitate communications with audiences -- in other words, the voters. If officials are to ensure the robust future of a city, for example, they must afford the next generation an opportunity to communicate (in their own language) with the elected officials.
Government organizations and elected officials can make great use of social media in a variety of ways. Departments can hold brainstorming sessions or maintain ongoing conversations with the public through questions and answers on a blog; internally teams can use wikis to manage projects, share best practices and research case studies; the CEO of the City or more importantly, the Mayor can keep a blog or record a podcast; and can immediately deliver news to voters, their public.
The novel aspect of social media is their conversational tone: Knowledge sharing takes place through processes including discussion with questions and answers (online forums), collaborative editing (wikis), or storytelling with reactions (blogs).

Great leaders must live in the now -- with an eye on the future. What is most important goes beyond public safety. Public safety is a must -- and a given. Cities must be safe and clean, but beyond that, cities must afford opportunities for economic development, job growth, housing, and most importantly, quality of life. When a company looks at moving to a new city, its leaders seek 1) standard of living and a positive impact on the company's bottom line and 2) quality of life for its employees and their families.
What is quality of life? How does it differ from standard of living? These are questions CEOs of companies ask before locating in a city and questions a CEO of a city must ask before promoting the city he/she represents. Standard of living and and quality of life are often referred to in discussions about the economic and social well-being of cities and their residents, but what is the difference between the two? It's more than just a matter of semantics; in fact, knowing the difference can affect how you evaluate a city where you might be looking to move your company or family.
Standard of living generally refers to the level of wealth, comfort, material goods and necessities available to a certain socioeconomic class, in a certain geographic area. An evaluation of standard of living commonly includes the following factors:
-quality and availability of employment
-class disparity
-poverty rate
-quality and affordability of housing
-hours of work required to purchase necessities
-gross domestic product (GDP)
-inflation rate
-number of paid vacation days per year
-affordable access to quality health care
-quality and availability of education
-life expectancy
-incidence of disease
-cost of goods and services
-local economic growth
-economic and political stability
-political and religious freedom
-environmental quality
When you think about standard of living, you can think about things that are easy to quantify. We can measure factors like life expectancy, inflation rate and the average number of paid vacation days workers receive each year, for example.
Quality of life is more subjective and intangible. The United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, provides an excellent list of factors that can be considered in evaluating quality of life. It includes many things that citizens of the United States and other developed countries take for granted, but that are not available in a significant number of countries around the world. Although this declaration is decades old, in many ways it still represents an ideal to be achieved, rather than a baseline state of affairs -- sadly. Look at the issue of marriage equality, for example. Factors that may be used to measure quality of life include the following:
-freedom from slavery and torture
-equal protection of the law
-freedom from discrimination
-freedom of movement
-freedom of residence within one's home country
-presumption of innocence unless proved guilty
-right to marry
-right to have a family
-right to be treated equally without regard to gender, race, language, religion, political beliefs, nationality, socioeconomic status and more
-right to privacy
-freedom of thought
-freedom of religion
-free choice of employment
-right to fair pay
-equal pay for equal work
-right to vote
-right to rest and leisure
-right to education
-right to human dignity
The main difference between standard of living and quality of life is that the former is more objective, while the latter is more subjective. Standard of living factors such as gross domestic product, poverty rate and environmental quality, can all be measured and defined with numbers, while quality of life factors like equal protection of the law, freedom from discrimination and freedom of religion, are more difficult to measure and are particularly qualitative.
I personally embrace new businesses moving to South San Francisco, as these new businesses create a positive economic impact, jobs for residents (especially if housing is available), employees who spend their hard-earned dollars in our city, a critical connection between the game-of-life-changing Silicon Valley and one of the nation's grandest cities, San Francisco. Change is inevitable in South San Francisco. The change will happen whether we like it or not. If we are smart, we will embrace it -- if only to manage it.
South City is resilient and strong with a robust history. However, we must be careful not to get stuck thinking only about the past: "Survival of the Fittest" will win in the end. Instead what we SHOULD focus on and what the genius, Darwin ACTUALLY wrote was: "Adaptation is the Key to Survival."
Stay tuned for some of the gems I have discovered in and about South San Francisco. There is more than meets the eye here. I am enjoying the discovery and I will share what I find along the way. I may even interview a few of the fascinating people I have met from South City -- as there have been many.