Beth Perdue & SouthCoast Emerging Leaders Award

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of joining the Southcoast Emerging Leaders Committee to offer a small (tiny!) part in pushing this program forward.

Over the years, I had heard about the initiative but hadn’t fully felt the gravity of it all — until now.

Listen to the episode

The We Are Here Podcast
The We Are Here Podcast
Beth Perdue & SouthCoast Emerging Leaders Award

South Coast Emerging Leaders wants to tell a story

What does this program do?

What do they stand for?

Could I actually make an impact?

Friend of the show Shelley Cardoos connected me with today’s guest, Beth Perdue, and after a 30-minute coffee meeting at the Pink Bean in Fall River, I was convinced.

If you’re a business on the south coast, you don’t want to miss your opportunity to get involved and nominate an emerging leader you know.

Expand the show transcript

Beth: (00:00)
Five plus five is the code name. That’s a great way of talking about it is the South coast emerging leaders awards program and we call our winners. There are five of them, the South coast five.

Matt: (00:09)
So Beth, a big long title regional executive editor engagement community for Gatehouse new England. Absolutely right. That’s awesome. And then you’re doing, walk me back like I think when you and I first met seven or eight years ago, I think it was at the South coast business bulletin, was that

Beth: (00:29)
during the South coast business bulletin, which I loved that, that was a monthly business to business publication. It actually had originally been called the new England business bulletin, but it was focused here in Southeastern mass. So we changed the name of it, uh, after a couple years. And um, it was a great publication because it was very connected to business people in this area and very responsive. They had a really strong hand just through their voices and connections with me and the content we put out. And I really loved that. I missed that publication.

Matt: (01:01)
What is it about this area in the name South coast? And I’ll, you know, raise my hand as, as guilty as charged since the name of the website is South where I produce this podcast. What is it about us always wanting to stamp everything with South South coast? Is it just because it is the South coast or is there like, are we drawn to this and not drawn to just staking our flag in new Bedford and staking our flag in the fall river or Westport Dartmouth wherever.

Beth: (01:30)
I think there are probably a lot of good reasons the way you’re going, but I actually think that the primary reason and one of the prime motivators for doing it had much more to do with having political heft and leverage in Boston and the fact that as individual towns and individual cities, we did not have as much weight as if we came together as a region. And I think this region recognized that other areas of the state had seen success with that and it was a very deliberate branding campaign.

Matt: (02:00)
Yeah. You know what it doesn’t work on though is search engine optimization. The term South coast isn’t something that most consumers saying, I need to find a plumber in the South coast. No, they say I need to find a plumber in fall river and new Bedford. And then all of us go out there and we brand ourselves a South coast. So that’s kind of funny. But you chose South coast to I chose South coast too. Um, for things that you and I have spoke about before is, you know, uh, I don’t think one city or town in this area can do it alone. Right. I mean this is like the towing threatened, like a lot of the conversations that people have. Um, and yeah, it is a way to show some solidarity across everything. Um, yeah, I guess for the same reasons that when you’re looking up to the Boston area where you want them to look at us, they won’t look at one individual city or town.

Beth: (02:57)
And it does ties together. We have shared opportunities, shared challenges, shared vision, and it makes sense to collaborate. Right.

Matt: (03:04)
There’s not a lot of us in, you know, one particular area, right. I mean collectively compared to a Boston compared to you know, a heck a huge major Metro area. I mean one of the things that somebody who’s, you know come up in the uh, software space building software and sort of building that sort of small business in this area, it’s very difficult to retain talent in this area. Like once these kids graduate, heck, even high school and they know how to code the world is there. It’s like they can do whatever. So keep them in this area. It’s very difficult. Um, and they can easily go to Boston, New York, San Francisco, Austin, Texas. Like it is a major challenge for anybody who’s technically oriented to stay around here or running a business.

Beth: (03:47)
And that is a great segue into our awards program because one of the things, one of the reasons we created it was to recognize the challenge of keeping people in this region. Young emerging leaders and recognition is a fair way of, you know, we, it isn’t just getting an award, it’s a sort of process to that including group interviews and questionnaires that gets them thinking about leadership. We bring them together in small groups to meet each other and talk about leadership. We have a lot of partners who are committed to retaining talent in this region. And so, uh, emerging leaders really exist to do exactly what you’re trying to do with your young coders.

Matt: (04:26)
Let’s take it back to the South coast business Bolton. Really quick. And storytelling. You said that you really love that publication because the business owners, they had a voice. Um, I got lots of questions around like, you know, how social media has impacted journalism promotion and getting the word out, stuff like that. But you’ve seen from obviously a very early start that telling the story as a business owner is super important. Um, how are you, of course, emerging leaders certainly helps, but how is journalism today helping the small business get their voice out, if at all? Uh, you know, with the efforts that you’ve seen within Gatehouse,

Beth: (05:07)
I would have to say that, uh, journalism today is, has just seen change after change, after change, after change and it’s still ongoing. And I think one of the changes that’s happening now is beginning to see a newspaper and its journalists as a partner in the community in a new way. So newspapers have always been partners in the community, especially big initiatives, right? They S newspapers function with this idea of public service. So the information that they put out is meant to be public service, but it’s been a one way street. It’s been the newspaper outward and what the shift, the real current shift is to make it more of a dialogue white, where we’re listening more, where we’re asking leaders what they think, where we’re taking what they think and making sure we put that out there where we’re trying to start conversations and we’re trying to tell stories.

Beth: (05:55)
I think you’re absolutely right for our business. You have to tell your story. And in fact, journalists haven’t told their stories and we’re facing that, right? We have to tell our people don’t know how we work or how we function, right? There are so many misunderstandings and we’ve sort of been, okay, we’re over here doing our thing. We know we’re doing our thing. We don’t, Oh, do we need to tell you that? And, and it’s a, it’s kind of a wake up call. We’re beginning to realize how much we need to do that. We’re taking real steps to begin doing that. It’s a process. We’re just getting started. I’m sure we’ll get better. But I think that’s true for any in every business, right?

Matt: (06:27)
Yeah. Uh, if this is your first time listening to the show, episode 10, uh, which came out, uh, I talked all about that, about storytelling, cornerstone content to get technical on like marketing and SEO. Um, so check out episode 10, if you want more of that. I live in fall river. My God, the new cycle and fall river has been pretty busy. Um, and you know, journalism, there has been Uber important, right? No matter what side of the fence you fall on, uh, politically or whoever you want to support. And it’s really a mirror image in my opinion. Maybe not as big of a mirror, but a mirror image of what happens at sort of the federal national level of like, what side am I on and who am I believing here? And you see the attack on, on journalism, um, again, at the real high national level.

Matt: (07:18)
And I’ve seen it at the local level. I mean, the current mayor sitting in there has, had at one point had, had set up a mock website, you know, uh, mocking the, the particular journalist who covers him. And it’s just, uh, I mean, it’s just a black guy, uh, for the city, uh, at this point. But, you know, journalists super important, but what about people in the community? I know we’ve talked about this before. What about the journalist who wants to, or excuse me, the, the, the person in the community who feels like a journalist who wants to surface up stories. Is that a thing that folks like Gatehouse and yourself are looking at? Say, you know what, that person over there, they, they told a great story on their Instagram or on their Facebook or on their live Facebook live feed, you know, uh, is that something that larger media organizations are looking at? Like boy civilians have a great powerful tool to publish now and to get their story out. How do we get them involved? Is that something that happened?

Beth: (08:16)
Yes. Um, well first I’d just like to say that the Herald news is killing it with its coverage of what’s going on in fall river. And to your point about journalism being in trouble, imagine the city without that newspaper in it right now. Right. So it’s fantastic to see them at work and really just kicking out there like putting so much content out there. But um, yes, so I think we have been doing that for a long time where we are very aware when we’re an a region and area, a town, a city of the voices already out there from the community on social media. I cannot tell you how many for stories we get from social media and the tips are generally the ones where we go, wow, that’s a great story. We want to do it. But there’s also a lot of content out there from people where we just say, Oh, people are gonna want to know this. And it may not be something we’re going to do, but we’ll either share it or maybe do a quick rewrite and call them up or something and put it out there. So absolutely. And that’s part of that growing dialogue that we see happening between newspapers and their communities. Um, it’s a two way street.

Matt: (09:24)
Yeah. Where do people read their news these days or listen or watch? Is it, is it still predominantly the newspaper? Is it, are they reading stories on, on Facebook or are they going directly to the websites? Where do you feel?

Beth: (09:38)
So I wish I brought my stats with me and I didn’t. But I will say that mobile continues to grow, grow, grow. So people, a lot of people are reading on our apps, on their phone or even online on their phone. Um, and the next one is probably tablet, tablets and desktop. Right. Um, and then print. This is really the one that’s not growing, right. It’s going in the other way. So, um, and we’re very aware of that. So the newspaper has a lot of ways to get information out there. And for a younger audience, we might put a notification out to apps. For our older audience, we send out an email newsletter. Right. So we’re trying to really directly reach out to specific audiences in very different ways. Yeah.

Matt: (10:18)
Or is Gatehouse doing it like Snapchat or tic talk or anything like that? So as far as I know, not in not

Beth: (10:23)
no tick tock. Um, there was some forays into snap. Yeah.

Matt: (10:27)
I’m not sure. Yeah. Yeah. I don’t think it’s a, a, a new source. But again, like you said, it’s, it’s definitely if you’re putting out little bits for people to consume, because I mean, there’s, at your attention is pulled in 50 million different directions. There’s national news, there’s local news, there’s Netflix, there’s YouTube, there’s, you gotta go get my kids. I get all this stuff to do. So if you can deliver these bite size chunks, um, you know, it’s like sitting down years ago to read the newspaper and you know, in an afternoon or whatever,

Beth: (10:58)
although I still run into the people. I ran into someone yesterday who was fairly young too and who said, I love this. I love the print paper. I love opening it up. And

Matt: (11:08)
yeah, it’s still, it’s still not lost. Um, you know, in my, in my opinion, uh, business owners, well, one thing that you said about, uh, mobile, so this is just every time somebody says this, I always have to like, just like bring this up. This is super important because when I sit down with business owners sometimes to review their website, let’s say, Hey, Matt, people are coming to my website anymore. I don’t know why. Or they get to my website, I got all this information here. Why aren’t they contacting me? It’s because it has to be, you have to dumb it down for people when they get to the website because 90% of the traffic now might be coming from a mobile phone. You can’t have every color and graphic in 17 videos, just load it up on the homepage because you’re on a mobile device now. Uh, and that’s just one thing that I, I just needed to get out there because I do hear people talk about it all the time. If newspapers are learning that lesson, I would say that every business needs to learn that lab. Right? All right. Thursday, October 3rd at the Woodland commons at UMass, start with the tickets are 30 bucks working folks go to get these tickets to buy these tickets.

Beth: (12:12)
The South coast, a chamber, a website, which is South coast and uh, it’s going to be a fabulous night. We have been doing this for many years. The event is one of my absolute favorites. I will say that every time I connect to emerging leaders in this region, I am uplifted and I, my whole idealistic of version of for this region and it’s just so much positivity. They have such energy. They want to make great changes here. They see this region as their home. They’re not looking to go anywhere else. They want to make change here and they want to raise their families here and be a part of what happens here. And by here, this year in particular, it was fall river and new Bedford. It was very interesting to hear a lot of voices at the table saying, why aren’t we working together more? So, um, so you get a night, so you come to the event, you get a great night, there’s some hors d’oeuvres and cocktails and um, you get to sort of mingle and mix not only with these young, very positive, uh, up and coming leaders.

Beth: (13:14)
Um, but we also do the Jacobs leadership award and um, this year births the first time we’re awarding it posthumously to Reverend Robert Lawrence, who has a huge reputation in this region, has done so much. Um, and at UMass we will actually be in the, uh, hall named for him there as we give this. Right. It does. And um, so you get a lot of people who will come out as established leaders as part of that piece of the award. And so the event is this really nice mix of young and like a lot of times you see events in this region that are one or the other. And this is the whole rationale is to bring these two groups together and have them intermingle and mix. It’s a fairly quick award ceremony. So the best part is sort of hanging out and chatting with all of these leaders in the room.

Matt: (14:00)
What’s the, uh, so first of all, I mean it’s like I was lucky enough, I don’t even know how or why you folks pick me to be on the committee, on the committee, um, to help sort of filter down these folks. And full disclosure, we just had our third child, so I didn’t contribute that much to the process. Um, thank you. But I was able to, uh, to witness it and now obviously, uh, help broadcast a little bit on this little thing that I do here. Um, what is the sign of success for this undertaking? So is it to just bring, uh, an advertise the awesome people in this area or are we seeing some kind of direct result where, you know, people are saying, wow, uh, okay, that business has some awesome people that work for them. We want to invest over here or we want to bring business here or is it too still too young? I mean, no, it’s only the six one. It’s still pretty young. Um,

Beth: (14:51)
part of it is that it’s young and we do expect every year we add another dimension to it. So we are continually growing it. I think at this point where we’ve been less focused on the business impact and we’re sort of leaving it to the businesses to say, Hey, we’ve got these great talent, look at the talent on our staff and look at them being recognized. And we know that a lot of the businesses are doing that. Um, they’re very aware of the awards program. They are, all of our nominations come from the community, so either they are coming from community leaders or they’re coming from business leaders. Um, so they’re very aware of that. Um, primarily our focus recently has been on, um, connecting leaders to each other. What we’re finding is there’s a lot, there’s a lot of collaboration on the South coast happening, but they come to us and they say, we’re looking for more. We want to come together in groups and make change and help us connect. Um, we’ve got leadership South coast at the table. We’ve got the chambers together at the table, and, um, they have a South coast young professionals network, which is all about bringing young leaders together. So more and more we’re helping to, uh, give opportunities to young leaders to connect a new way.

Matt: (15:59)
Right? Uh, and again, like, you know, not to keep drawing it back to fall river, but now this is a time, if any, where we need to see good leaders coming out of that and saying, Oh, you know, we gotta get past this cloud. Like, this cloud has to go by us as, as somebody who lives in or has lived in fall river, uh, for, geez, 11 years now, I think, uh, and, and a Dartmouth native, right? Somebody who grew up in Dartmouth mood, fall river and have stayed there. This cloud has to go by a program like this, highlights these entrepreneurs or these just leaders in general that are living and operating in, in fall river. Um, and of course new Bedford and surrounding areas. Uh, what has the, well, actually let’s talk about the, the process, right? So for anybody who’s missed it this year, right? Eh, you’re just hearing about it now for the very first time, um, maybe you can’t go to the event, you didn’t get a chance to nominate anybody. Uh, next year. This whole nomination process isn’t easy. It’s not like you just go to a Facebook survey and go, I want this person. She’d be a great fit.

Beth: (17:01)
Uh, we actually make our emerging leaders do a little work for this and it really has made us very comfortable with the process. It’s somewhat involved and we have great partners at the table. So flow from studio is one of our partners, but he, for all, I said leadership, South coast community foundation of Southeastern mass, both chambers, two newspapers. Um, I’m sure I’m forgetting somebody. Um, w so they’re all at the table. They’re all part of the selection committee. They’re so connected in these communities, right? So, um, they S people already have some background and a reputation when they come in. We make them fill out an extensive questionnaire in which we give them. We asked three out of five questions about leadership. We are asking them things like, uh, who in our community is not at the table and should be right? What rules should our communities be breaking?

Beth: (17:49)
What is your vision for an ideal South coast? A, what are your challenges to effective leadership? Um, and then we bring them together in groups. We do three groups of about, we have 30 nominees, there were about 10 individuals each and we’d put them around a table together and we facilitate a conversation on leadership based on those questions that we’ve already had them answer in the questionnaire. And for us, that’s, that’s you get this opportunity to hear these great ideas. And I will say one of the issues they were most vocal about, I mean they were the entire tables would erupt is this idea of fall river. And new Bedford needing to do more together and there’s huge support for that out there. Um, and they want to do more. They talk about the barriers to being more effective. Leaders being sometimes being judged for their age and people saying, no, come back when you’re older. And they’re like, and I love it. They’re like, no, no, I’m here. I’m doing it now. I’m not waiting until you tell me that I’m the right age for this. Right. So it’s, it’s a fabulous experience.

Matt: (18:49)
What happens if somebody gets nominated and they don’t think of themselves as a leader? Have you come across that yet? And we’re like, Oh my God, I didn’t even think I’d get this. Like who nominated me for this?

Beth: (18:58)
We got it more in the beginning. We, I see it less now, but yes, definitely we have had a couple people pull out. Um, and sometimes that is the reason. It’s very rare, but it has happened. Maybe even one a year we’ll get, um, I know in the interview process this year, we definitely have one woman who said, I don’t see myself this way. But then she got into the conversation and she started to talk about, she gave real examples of the way she is leading her team. Um, and some people are fairly, so we have a broad spectrum, right. Some people are fairly new, especially it’s either in their career or in giving back to the community. And then other people, I mean, they get, they’re so young and they’re doing things that put me the shame and I’m like, Oh my God, I thought I was doing stuff my right in the context of what they’re accomplishing. I’m okay, I need to do more. Right.

Matt: (19:46)
And the whole process, uh, you know, takes, uh, aside from the logistics of, of like, you know, picking a venue and setting that stuff all up. Uh, the entire process is what it’s been. I think when I, when I took the first meeting, it was back in June,

Beth: (20:01)
may, June, something like that. Yeah.

Matt: (20:04)
And then you whittle it down up until, uh, end of August, right. Is how long that process took.

Beth: (20:09)
And we’ll come together online again, just with some feedback I have about how that’s going. But, um, we have been doing it uh, enough that we sort of have it down and we don’t meet. We used to meet a lot more and we don’t meet as much and the chamber, each of the partners does a lot of promotion for us and a lot. But I gotta give a real shout out to the South coast chamber of commerce to Devin and Rebecca. There they are just, they know how to do events and with their support it really becomes a lot more streamlined.

Matt: (20:38)
What, what does the organism or the do I say organization do I say? Is that the proper term to say partnership? What is the need for next year? Like if you know, you had the, you know, the number one thing, if there was, if there was a million, it might be a million people listening to this. I don’t know if there’s a million people listening to this and you said this is what we need for next year. Is it more nominations? Is it more healthy? What would you need?

Beth: (21:02)
I think that, I’m going back to your earlier comment about businesses, I think there needs to be a recognition on the part of local businesses that this could be a tool in their arsenal for retaining their talent, right? There are actually a lot of opportunities on the South coast to do that and a lot of these emerging leaders came to the table not knowing some of them, right? Um, leadership South coast is a huge retention asset for businesses. It’s a great way to connect your employees that you really want to see grow and stay with you with a broader community to keep them here. The awards program is very similar to that, right? It’s a way to give recognition to say, Hey, we’re going to nominate you for this award because we believe in the talent and that’s going to connect you to even more opportunities that you can do here in this region. I think the business recognition, um, could really grow. I think the community, we get a lot of nonprofit leaders, right? And I think it’s because the community leaders are so in tuned with that and they’re so aware of what that means to their staff. I think the businesses could pick that up.

Matt: (22:02)
Yeah. And amplify their story. Right. So if they, if, if they are somebody who is like, you know, cause that’s one of the things as like a small business owner, one of the things you don’t realize in the beginning is you are, once you start to hire people, employee number one, employee number 100 you’re like, I am responsible for their, you know, when their wellbeing, they’re not only just like the technicalities of well here’s a paycheck and here’s health insurance, whatever. It’s boy, they’re putting food on their table for their family. They trust us, but yada, yada yada. I’m getting involved with these types of things as a small business. I think it’s, I’ll say it’s like a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a way to sneak in and get your business amplified a little bit. People shut to recognize you put on the radar a little bit if your, if your person gets selected, well, wait a little bit of spotlight on you too.

Beth: (22:47)
Absolutely. And we do, we’re newspapers running this, right? So we took 30, that’s our, this is our largest group of nominees. So the number of nominees is definitely growing, right? I think we’re at 25 last year and that was our largest. So now we’re at 30. Um, and we do, we had to split them in two groups, uh, in the fall river paper and the new Bedford paper, we had 15 each. I mean all our, their pictures, all of their background. I mean, it is a huge spread. We’re have tons of content online about them, you know, so, and it’s getting a lot of attention. A gallery of all the nominees is just going crazy online. So, um, there’s a lot of exposure for a business. But I also think growing their leaders, um, and giving them recognition and helping to restate, retain staff is a great reason to do it. One

Matt: (23:32)
of the things that, so I’m also a mentor at E for all. I’ve done it six times now. And one of the things I’m starting to see because it’s, it’s a young organization too, at least in the South coast area, is now I’m starting see the, the businesses that have gone through the accelerator starting to work together, so the ones that have lasted and the ones that are really making a go of this stuff, you start to see them collaborate. You start to see them prop each other up, which is awesome, you know, because again, growing up in business, uh, when my family owned a car dealer, a local car dealership, you didn’t really see that much. I mean, maybe not to me, maybe work from my point of view, but you certainly didn’t see car dealers working together, but you and you, but you didn’t see any of this other stuff happening. Whether or not this is just the, uh, the, uh, advent of the, of the internet and social media and stuff like that. But it’s great to see collaborative, collaborative efforts like this, um, happening.

Beth: (24:28)
Yeah, I think there’s a hunger for it. I think I see it in these guys that they want to do more of that

Matt: (24:32)
there is, and when we get a train down here, it’s gonna be even better because now we can go nice and easily back and forth to tell, tell the big people up there in Boston, look what we’re doing down here in the old South coast. 30 bucks. They can get it, uh, on the website for the tickets anyway. Chamber. Yeah. South coast chamber. Um, dot Dot com. I’ll make sure I’ll put that in the show notes as well. Okay. Um, so that people can get access to that. Um, one of the things I’d like to sort of wrap up most conversations with is some kind of take away for a small business owner that they can, some kind of actionable advice to really maybe change their business. Generally I talk about marketing, like what’s this one thing you’ve done? Like, Hey, built an email list. Yeah. You know, I, uh, I did some on page SEO, so stuff like that. But from your vantage point, working at the newspaper for so long, is there one thing that you would turn to a small business that you look, you should really be thinking about this.

Beth: (25:29)
So I liked what you said earlier about telling your story. And I think when telling your story, you have to tell the motivation for what you’re doing. It isn’t just what you do but who you are and why you do what you do. Right. And I think that more businesses could do that and I think the newspaper can be helpful and useful in that process. Um, and a lot of different ways. But in, from the editorial side of things, from the news production side of things, I think it’s about, um, finding the nuggets and the uniqueness about who you are and what you do. Our content is so people focused, right? So news is never really gonna want to help you sell your widget, but it tells, tell who you are and how you got there and what you do. I mean there are a lot of good stories there and people are hungry for good stories and we are more attuned than ever to finding out what stories people are hungry for. So you find the intersection there.

Matt: (26:23)
That’s awesome stuff. Beth, thanks for sticking around and doing this podcast today. Where can folks find you to say things?

Beth: (26:29)
Ah, they can find me. Uh, are you looking for like an email or whatever you want to send people to? I would say, um, you can always reach out to Got a hot scoop or some kind of like, I would love to hear from. Absolutely.

Matt: (26:45)
Don’t forget Thursday, October 3rd, the Woodland commons, UMass Dartmouth 30 bucks. So I’m on d’oeuvres, some drinks and celebrating, uh, some of the South coast best young leaders. What’s the age on that? Under under 40. I’ve got a couple more years. I got a couple more years. I can just sneak in. [inaudible] uh, slash subscribed to join the mailing list. Don’t forget to leave us a five star review on iTunes. It really helps us get found. We’ll see you in the next episode.

Speaker 3: (30:29)

Matt: (30:42)
Hey everyone, thanks for listening to this episode. Hope you learned a ton from today’s guest. Shared a lot of value and experiences. We’re running a business and doing entrepreneurship on the South coast, so hope you take a lot out of it. Don’t forget to subscribe to the show. This episode is brought to you by Slocum studio. You can find Slocum if you need to get your marketing in order landing pages, get your conversions up, build that email list. Look no further than Slocum

Speaker 4: (31:20)
[inaudible] [inaudible].

Grab your tickets, $30 for the October 3rd reception at UMass Dartmouth Woodland Commons 5:30-7:30PM

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