Time to Change the “What’s In it for Me” Attitudes




We’re all self-centred– and that is just how it is. So if you are a leader in any capacity you need to make sure your employees are being treated right during any kind of a transition.

No one likes change– as change is a movement towards something different. But, a common ingredient in failed change efforts is that sometimes the people advocating the change are blind to any viewpoint other than their own, and don’t take the time to think before they act.

People that rule the lands or sit on boards always seem to live in a different world than the folks on the ‘shop floor’. That is not to suggest that one is better or lesser than the other, but you need to produce ideas that people can believe in and will work. If our downtown does not carry products or provide services that encompasses what customers are looking for- people are going to take their business elsewhere. It is that plain and simple.  How many people spend most of their time listening and observing to what is REALLY going on in downtown Carleton Place?

I fully admit I cannot provide all the solutions, but I’m not just a writer. Since 1967 I have worked in retail and marketing. Twenty five of those years were spent in my own business while still promoting other small Ottawa businesses and the local Ottawa music scene. I never ever asked once “what was in it for me”– because if you are not devoted to a project with heart and soul for the betterment of business for all–then why bother.

I fight for things that the town of Carleton Place lacks just for the satisfaction of hoping to see the day the town finally comes together. Yes, I am constantly told I have no clue what I am talking about. But, it doesn’t take a Harvard Business grad to see what is actually happening here in Carleton Place.

We want to have a successful downtown–yet I can’t see some suggested ideas working. Then again, nostalgia for the past will not sell the downtown in the present either. You have to have complete control over  your downtown – from special events to even getting rid of the weeds.

Developing and sustaining a mixed use downtown is challenging and we need a balanced leadership group to work on issues. Downtown organizations must have strong outreach efforts which must include working one-on-one with local businesses, and those businesses must have confidence that the right decisions will be made, and made in the right way.

I think most people realize that “the same old” isn’t working here, so we do need to be looking at creative ways other towns have revitalizing their downtowns, and who they have worked with to accomplish their goals. Maybe that means starting new relationships with people from outside of Carleton Place, people with fresh eyes and a different perspective. We desperately need to do something.

In reality there are no single solutions for our downtown right now– but we all need to look beyond that ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality to regain the economic health before the final threads of hope are lost.


Comment from a reader on Facebook

Steve Yaver I’ve only been here 7 months, but  I think it’s possible people from the outside will have a fresh perspective. From what I’ve seen, there seems to be a lot of cronyism in CP, with people pretty polarized on both sides, which is natural in a small town. I think having someone with zero preconceived notions, etc, can make a huge difference, even if it’s just to get a fresh pair of eyes on things.

What I do see is a town pulling in two directions – one that wants badly to revitalize downtown, preserve its heritage, and keep to its small town roots, but at the same time, embracing dense housing development, sometimes at the sacrifice of those roots others want to preserve.

I see a town at a crossroads that ultimately needs to decide whether it wants to stick to the roots on which it was founded, which can easily included SUSTAINABLE development, and attracting business (and I don’t necessarily mean storefronts, but other types of business so there are real employment opportunities locally) or whether it wants to be a town of commuters, which likely means more big box stores and possibly a further decline in the downtown area.



About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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