Thursday, December 2, 2010

Positively Soapbox

Time to get on a soapbox for a minute about, well, getting on a soapbox. (yes, it’s an old-fashioned cliché: learn about the history of the term here.) Most often, someone who “gets on a soapbox” is viewed negatively – they’re preachy, pushy and annoying. OK, guilty, not guilty, and guilty as charged.

But sometimes, the “soapbox” allusion is used to simply refer to making a public statement, to get up in front of the world and tell them about a new approach worthy of consideration. That was the case on December 1 in downtown Cleveland when about 200 people gathered for the unveiling of the Manufacturing Mart at the Galleria.

A nice concept – build on the region’s manufacturing legacy to provide a new service that’s part incubator, part matchmaker and part marketplace. It remains to be seen whether the Manufacturing Marketplace can scale up quickly to attract innovators, producers, distributors and consumers of new manufacturing technologies, but it seems like an earnest and worthwhile effort. Congrats to Mary Kaye Denning, President of Capital of Know-How, the creator of the concept.

The most interest we saw at the event was in the display at a company called Silca System from Alliance, OH. The company’s president, Bart Stuchell, demonstrated some recently-patented technology that allows elevated decks to be safely and economically paved with concrete pavers, bricks or stones. No more ugly, gray, splintery wood deck surfaces, all made possible by a unique honeycombed polymer construction – a great example of Ohio’s polymer expertise in action.

And maybe that technology (or a simple soapbox, if you could find one) could be used to create an elevated platform to enable the stand-up audience at an event like this to see the speaker. You hear a voice welcoming you and explaining the event’s purpose, but you need to crane your neck and dodge and weave and tiptoe in order to see what’s going on.

Do you have something the world needs to hear about? Great. Don’t be afraid to tell the world, and don’t be shy about stepping up on a soap box to make sure your message gets out loud and clear.

Microphone? Check. PA systems? Check. Video to capture event? Check. Soapbox (speaking platform)? Check.