Last week I had the pleasure of representing Misfit on a team of people who, in addition to building relationships with great clients and developing creative solutions to solve their communications problems, stand firm in our belief in the future growth and vitality of Sacramento. The Sacramento Metro Chamber’s study mission – an annual trip to leading cities throughout the country to uncover the “secrets of their success” – was a phenomenal experience for all who attended. For the better part of a week, Misfit had the privilege of partnering with over 75 Sacramento business, political and community leaders as we explored all of the things that have helped transform the city of Philadelphia, its brand as a region, its culture and, most importantly, its prospects for the future.

I could wax poetic on over a dozen highlights from this experience … but no one would read the rest of this post. So, I’ll stick to three quick takeaways:

First, everywhere we went during this trip – in meetings with Philadelphia’s political leaders, private sector business executives, local entrepreneurs, members of long standing boards, etc. – there was a palpable sense of unity. Now, I’m sure not everyone we met with always agrees on every economic, educational or political agenda item. But there was a very clear sense of unity in purpose and commitment to the mission at hand throughout all of the positive changes happening in that city over the past 10-15 years. It’s an amazing example of what a region can do when it decides that the future of “the whole” is more important than the short term desires of “the few.” This is a lesson that, while good for us all to remember, should be of particular note as we look to changes and opportunities facing Sacramento in the near future.

Second, during our visit with him on Thursday, John Fry (President of Drexel University in Philadelphia) said: “Civic engagement can’t be optional for organizations who want to be a part of something great.” This is powerful … and dead on. It’s not enough for businesses to create jobs and wealth – in Philadelphia, in Sacramento, or in any community that desires to be something truly special. Today’s leaders – business, political, community and otherwise – must improve the quality of life for those around them by investing their time, energy and passion in places and people most of us would rather ignore.

Finally, as they say, actions speak louder than words. The insights from this trip, for all who attended, were incredibly powerful. The lessons and opportunities they provide to shape the future of our region are tremendous. And during this four-day trip to Philadelphia, dozens of Sacramento’s business, economic, educational and political leaders were united in purpose – 3,000 miles from the distractions of our “every day” jobs. But, now that we’re back home, can we continue the momentum?

Misfit was founded out of a belief that, in our industry, there had to be a better way of doing things. As we like to say, we’ve “turned the normal way of doing things on its head” when it comes to typical ad agency structure. I think the great ones always do this, in their own way.

Here’s hoping that, as our community, Sacramento is ready to turn the way we traditionally work together on its head … united in our desire, and commitment, to collaboratively transform Sacramento from “that place between Tahoe and San Francisco” into “that place everyone wishes they could live, work and play in.”