Jeff Carter with the City of Mobile

Jeff Carter with the City of Mobile

On this week’s podcast, Marcus chats with Jeff Carter with the City of Mobile. You’re not going to want to miss this interview as Jeff shares his journey of connections and organic education that sent him from being a paramedic to being the Chief Innovation Officer for our city. 

Transcript:

Jeff: I'm Jeff Carter, the Chief Innovation Officer with the City of Mobile.

Marcus: Awesome. Well, welcome to the podcast, Jeff.

Jeff: Thanks.

Marcus: Yeah. You have no idea what you've gotten yourself into.

Jeff: I have no idea.

Marcus: Now Jeff, full disclosure, Jeff and I know each other from a number of organizations. The one that we should probably mention because we want them to known is Fuse Project. We both sit on the board for Fuse Project. I've known you from your past life as the head of the I-Team, which we won't get into here because I'm very curious to hear about what you have going on as the Chief Innovation Officer. But before we get into all of that, why don't you tell us the story of Jeff. Where are you from? Where'd you go to high school, college? I know a little bit about your background before getting hired as the lead of the I-Team. Married? Not married? All that stuff.

Jeff: Ah, the short biography. Well it's a-

Marcus: No, this is 25 to 30 minutes, so you better talk for a little bit or we're gonna have to dig deep.

Jeff: Well, it's kind of a bizarre story that doesn't make a whole lot of sense how I got here. I'll try to make it as concise and believable as possible.

Marcus: Sure.

Jeff: But I grew up in the booming metropolis of Citronelle, Alabama.

Marcus: Sweet.

Jeff: When I got to the age of middle school, my parents decided to send me to school in Mobile. I came to the Magnet Program. I went to Phillips for three years. At the end of three years, my dad made a deal with me that I could go to high school wherever I wanted. He assumed that I would go back to Citronelle High School because that's where my friends were and everything. I did miss that a lot. But when I got through at Phillips, it just occurred to me that I'd had such a good education at Phillips that I really couldn't go back to Citronelle.

Marcus: Even as young kid you recognized that?

Jeff: Yeah.

Marcus: Wow.

Jeff: I wound up graduating from LeFlore High School, which was the Magnet High School at the time. It was a very interesting change for me to go from a small town to really an inner city high school when I graduated from LeFlore. It was, I don't know, 97% African-American. I tell people all the time that that was really one of my first and best real learning opportunities. I tell people I got an education and an education there. It was really, really good to be able to learn, at that age, so many different things that I had never been exposed to before. That really started opening my mind to how to learn from different people and how to focus on people, and it was very important to me. When I got out of ... When I was in ... um. Lot of ums. When I was growing up, my parents worked hard. They were blue collar. My mom's a teacher. My dad worked in the chemical plant. They tell people that the dreams they had for us as kids all came from a Willie Nelson song. They wanted us to grow up to be doctors and lawyers and such or get a good job.

Marcus: Did they know at the time that Willie Nelson was ... nevermind.

Jeff: Hey, let's not down an icon here. All right?

Marcus: Yeah, a massive pothead that, you know, but anyway.

Jeff: Willie's an American treasure.

Marcus: He is absolutely.

Jeff: He's an American Treasure.

Marcus: I love Willie Nelson, but, yeah.

Jeff: Anyway, so I thought I wanted to go to med school is what I thought I wanted to do. I did well in high school and tried to do all those extra things that they tell you're supposed to do. One of those extra things I wound up doing was I became an EMT. That made perfect sense to me at the time. I was gonna be an EMT, and I was gonna have this on my transcript when I applied for med school that I had had patient care experience, and it was all gonna be great. After high school went to South, enrolled in South and wound up finishing my paramedic at night while I did the rest of my college courses during the day. Then what happened was I was 19-years-old and I had a paramedic license. I was the youngest paramedic in the State of Alabama. I could give narcotics but not drink alcohol. That's when I found out that a 19-year-old boy should not be allowed to make his own money. At the age of 19, I was a paramedic, and I found out that I could get a job and make money. Somehow that became a lot more alluring to me than finishing college. I dropped out of college, much to my dad's chagrin, and I worked on the ambulance. I worked here in Mobile County. Later transferred over and worked in Baldwin County. I worked 24-hour shifts, 48-hour shifts, 72-hour shifts, X-hour shifts, but I loved it. It was great. What I loved the most about being a medic was that in a single day, in a single shift, you might help the smartest person in the world, the most challenged person in the world, the richest person in the world, and the poorest person in the world. You might get to see all those people and learn something from them in a single shift. There's really nothing else like it. It was a really cool experience. It taught me a lot about how the world works. Taught me a lot about how to talk to people of different backgrounds and learn information in a very short amount of time, and then try to turn that information into something that could help make them better in a very short amount of time. I worked on the ambulance for a little while. I was fortunate enough to get hired at SouthLight. My hire date at SouthLight is pretty memorable. The hire date was 9/11 2001.

Marcus: Oh, gosh, dude.

Jeff: That was my first full-time day on the helicopter, and so did that for a while. Loved that. Working at South was amazing. Also in that time, I got asked to come back, and I taught in the paramedic program run at South. Paramedic, EMTP means EMT part-time something else, where every paramedic has a bunch of jobs.

Marcus: Right.

Jeff: I was fortunate enough to work on the ambulance, work on the helicopter, and teach, and did that for a while. The Hospital chose to get out of SouthLight at a time and went over to a private provider. That transition was where I learned a lot about business, because all of a sudden it was more than just taking care of sick people. You really started having to understand the business aspect of it. In the healthcare world that's a challenge. Did that for a while. I thought I was ready for an eight to five day job, and got asked to come be the Deputy Director of EMS in the country, for Mobile County. I knew they had some challenges there when I took the job.

Marcus: It's a nice way of saying, "Things were kind of messed up."

Jeff: Yeah. Well, it reminds me of one of my favorite John F. Kennedy quotes. He was asked by a reporter his first week in office what he was most surprised about so far. He says, "Well, what I'm most surprised about is things was as bad as we were saying they were." Anyway, so we got there and they were in the transition of going from a full volunteer to a paid service and trying to do a better job for citizens in the county. We just realized we had to get to work. What happened there was I'm really proud of. We were able to turn that operation around from an operation that had very, very long average response times for the county, just very, very long was all I can say. In two years we had grown that organization from about 10 employees to 120 employees, and we cut response times in the county to 10-minute average response times for the entire county.

Marcus: Wow.

Jeff: We did that really sort of organically by finding problems and addressing problem, finding problems and addressing problems. The way we started to do this was really by looking at data and mapping. We started really, really paying attention to the data that we had on our run volume and the needs of the county. We really looked at mapping those calls for service by hour of the day, and day of the week, and hour of the day. We were able to match up our schedule side or deployment side to the needs and then keep growing with a county that was growing. That was our little formula there. That worked out real well.

Marcus: It sounds like that was the beginning of your data analysis-

Jeff: It was.

Marcus: ... because I know that that becomes also very important in what you did at the I-Team as well. But I didn't realize that that was where that education came from.

Jeff: Yeah, a lot of my education is pretty organic. I learned things as I needed them. Taught my self a lot of things. I don't have a very traditional education background, although I did go back to South and complete my bachelor's degree.

Marcus: What'd you get your degree in?

Jeff: Some of my degree is in emergency management.

Marcus: Okay.

Jeff: I did go back to South and complete my degree. But most of the other things I learned since then were really just sort of ad hoc in a lot of ways. But it's interesting to me how all of those things have kind of wound themselves together and built on one another, so, yeah, the data analysis and stuff that I learned there and the mapping that I learned there has been instrumental in what I've done here.

Marcus: Right.

Jeff: Do I just keep going here? Are you good?

Marcus: Yeah, no. You're good. But seriously that's what this podcast is all about, man.

Jeff: All right. All right. Anyway, so while I was working there, things had gotten settled down and we were in a maintenance mode and just growing a little bit, and things were really good out there. They're still doing a great job out there. I started getting invited to some of this volunteer stuff. In 2010, I did Leadership Mobile, which was cool for me because when I was in high school and I thought I was going to med school and I was trying to check all the boxes, I had signed up for a Youth Leadership Mobile. It turned out to have been the first class of Youth Leadership Mobile that Mobile United had ever done.

Marcus: Interesting.

Jeff: I was in the inaugural class of Youth Leadership Mobile. Then in 2010 had applied for the Adult Leadership Mobile course and was the first person in the adult class that had done the youth class, so that was cool. I really enjoyed that, met some awesome, awesome people, had a great experience, learned even more about Mobile. Then after that I'm kind of in this mode where once you do that, the next thing you're supposed to do is "be on some boards." I thought that's what I needed to do next. I got an invitation to the Greater Gulf State Fair Board. I didn't know the Greater Gulf State Fair had a board. I just knew that I'd been to the fair. That was all I knew. I really had not other motivation to do it other than-

Marcus: To be on a board.

Jeff: ... you're supposed to be on some boards after you do this. This is kind of the thing. Right?

Marcus: Yep.

Jeff: I think I'm following the formula. I found out later I wasn't following the formula, but I thought I was following the formula. I get on the board and to my surprise when I got there, I found that they had a lot of challenges. I was on the board for four or five years, I guess, and in that time we went through some pretty big transitions. There was some staff turnover. I wound up hiring a guy named Scott Tindle.

Marcus: He's a common theme in what's going on in Mobile right now.

Jeff: Yeah. I never forget it. I talked to him, interviewed him. The board voted. I went outside and said, "Man, if you're dumb enough to take this job, they're gonna give it to you."

Marcus: Yeah. He's the dog that caught the car.

Jeff: Yeah, so before he got there, we had made a lot of changes. When he got there was when we really started the rebranding efforts. I love telling the story because people assume that we hired some high dollar agency to do all the rebranding. The truth is we drank a lot of beers, and somebody said, "Let's just call it The Grounds." The next morning, Tindle got on Fiverr and got us a logo for 300 bucks, and hence it was rebranded.

Marcus: Sure.

Jeff: But all the changes that we made there, that organization had been losing six figures a year for a while.

Marcus: Wow.

Jeff: We were able to take that organization by re-changing its brand, changing its presentation, and changing who we advertised to.

Marcus: Yeah, the audience.

Jeff: Who we market it to. The feel of the event as well as some price structure, some contract things, and just a sort death by a thousand cuts. But we were able to take that organization from losing $100,000 a year to making $400,000 a year in 13 months.

Marcus: A $500,000 swing-

Jeff: In 13 months.

Marcus: ... in 13 months. That's amazing.

Jeff: Well, the cool part about it is what we did with the money. The cool part about it is we had this concept we call Community Capital. I define Community Capital by if you wink out of existence tomorrow, who would raise their hand and say, "I really miss those guys at Blue Fish"?

Marcus: Right.

Jeff: If there's nobody that'll raise their hand, then you don't have any Community Capital.

Marcus: Please, somebody raise their hand, please.

Jeff: We started doing things with the money that organization made and reinvesting it back into organizations that were providing service. One of the things we did was used to have a hard time getting people to work the ticket office. Well, we had 10 nights, so we gave a thousand dollars to a different nonprofit every night to staff the ticket office. If you've worked at a nonprofit, you know how hard it is to make a thousand dollars in six hours of profit. It is a huge deal. We started doing things like that to help really engrain that organization in the community.

Marcus: Well, then also, I don't know if it was intentional, but you're also probably getting marketed to the audience that they have as well.

Jeff: Everything is related. Every single thing is related and there's a-

Marcus: Scott's good at that kind of stuff.

Jeff: ... value exchange on everything. I did that for a while, enjoyed that. Sort of through that, that's when I got introduced to Grant and the Fuse Project. I missed their very inaugural event, but I've been on the board since right after that. What I loved about that organization was their focus on creating immediate measurable impact for kids in our area. I liked that we weren't gonna do things regular. That was really something that spoke to me, so I've enjoyed being a part of that. Actually, that organization is why I am in the job I am now.

Marcus: How so?

Jeff: It was a little bit serendipitous. The first year we had the first Dragon Boat, we made more money than we thought we were gonna make. At the time we felt like we needed a strategic plan, but we really didn't have enough money to go hire anybody that did a strategic plan. We didn't really believe that we could do our own strategic plan, so we had this idea that we would have an event called Light the Fuse. We had this dinner, and Noble South catered it and gave us a great deal. We completely redid the lot next door to Downtown Alliance. We invited a hundred movers and shakers of Mobile. These were the guys who get hit up for money every 10 seconds.

Marcus: All the time. Yeah.

Jeff: The hook we told them for that night was that we needed their brains not their wallets, and there was no charge. We paid for the entire dinner, and paid for everything. All they had to do was have a fantastic dinner, sit with some fantastic people at 10 tables of 10, and dream up what solutions would they have to fix issues for children in our area. That was what they had to do. They had to do that before dessert.

Marcus: No small feat.

Jeff: Yeah. We are on a clock here.

Marcus: Yeah. Exactly.

Jeff: Before dessert came around, we went around the tables and filmed each table's response to their answers and cut them all together real quick and played them up on that wall while dessert was being served. The 10 answers from that thing did dictate the next projects that Fuse entered into. One of the first ones, they said, "You know we need a place for nonprofits to come together."

Marcus: Which became Fuse Proper.

Jeff: Which became Fuse Factory.

Marcus: Yeah, Factory.

Jeff: Several tines we heard that we really need more mentoring in Mobile, and so that became a pledge to Big Brothers Big Sisters to fund a hundred new mentors in Mobile and Baldwin County from Dragon Boat. That was our strategic plan, and we're still working on some of that stuff. But I digress a bit. As I was doing research for the table that I led that night, I came across this article on Money.com, of all places, about Memphis, Tennessee. What they had in Memphis was an I-Team, and I read about the work they'd done in Memphis on rebuilding neighborhoods. They used a model they called: Clean it, fix it, sustain it. It was fascinating to me. I just dove into it. I found everything I could read about it. They were one of the first five I-Teams in the world, the inaugural I-Team class from Bloomberg. I just could not read enough about it. I was fascinated. We did this event in October. In December, low and behold, there's Mayor Stimpson walking down Texas Street announcing the City of Mobile has gotten an I-Team grant. I felt just compelled to apply for it. I don't think I had any special skill set that would get me in the I-Team. I didn't think that the resume I had would get me in I-Team, didn't know anything about it. But I felt I'd read about it, I was fascinated by it, and I wouldn't be able to sleep until I applied for it. I sent my application into the dark. They were dumb enough to call me, and here I am. When I got offered the job, it completely freaked my mom out, because she wanted me to have a good job, a good stable job, and I had that at EMS. I was the Deputy Director and things were good.

Marcus: Right.

Jeff: I'll never forget. I went to sleep one night and I woke up the next morning and I said, "You know, if I stay where I'm at, in three years I'll know exactly where I'll be. If I go take this grant-funded job, in three years have no idea where I'll be. I'm actually more terrified of knowing where I'll be than not knowing where I'll be."

Marcus: There are some life lessons there.

Jeff: Yeah, so here I am.

Marcus: For those of you that aren't familiar with the I-Team and ... if I understand from what you said earlier ... Terrance is now the head of the I-Team, so we want to get him on as well. Because honestly I wasn't aware that you had been promoted to Chief Innovation Officer for the city. We're gonna get to that in just a second. But for those of you that aren't familiar with the I-Team, the I-Team, I usually refer to them as the virus that is infecting the city. Whenever there is a problem area ... Correct me if I'm wrong but ... where the citizens are necessarily receiving the service that they should be receiving as the citizens of Mobile, then the I-Team usually goes in, tries to assess the situation, oftentimes there's interviews of the citizens of Mobile to find out what the issues were. The I-Team tries to go in and find pathways that they can smooth out those rough spots.

Jeff: Oh, that's part of it. To simplify it a little bit, the I-Team is really there to add a capacity to help the government think of old problems in new ways.

Marcus: Yep.

Jeff: Many of these problems that the City of Mobile has challenges with, cities all across the US have challenges with. Sometimes cities are not necessarily have the human capacity to think of new ways. A lot of the times when you hear about cities cutting budgets and all of those things, you really have an organization that has just enough people to do the job it's doing.

Marcus: Sure.

Jeff: For it to stop and think about how it might do it different-

Marcus: It's a luxury.

Jeff: ... it means that it has to stop, and you can't stop the functions of government. That's where this I-Team Innovation capacity comes in is to really help think about those things differently. To do that, the focus is very, very much on the end user, whoever the end user might be. A lot of times everybody thinks the great ideas come from the corner office. Well, they don't. The great ideas come from the people doing the work every day.

Marcus: Right.

Jeff: That's where the real focus of the I-Team is and has been a focus of mine. No matter what I've done is to think about it from the perspective of the guy that's out there actually doing the thing, whatever the thing is.

Marcus: Getting into the change here with your role as Chief Innovation Officer, so what does that look like? What are you?

Jeff: Yeah, so as the Chief Innovation Officer, I'm a member of the I-Team, the city's I-Team, city's GIS and the city's 311. Those four organizations are all related and separate. But each one of them really is a service. They provide a service to someone. Our I-Team provides a service to citizens and to the city. They're really, really, really good at looking at things from end user prospective and letting that help the design and dictate the solutions that the city needs to make sure that whatever we do as a city that we continue to serve our ultimate purpose which is to improve the lives of citizens. Our IT Department is super-strong in the technical stuff, but hasn't in the past had the capacity to think about those things from the user prospective.

Marcus: User prospective. That is normal with IT.

Jeff: Yeah. They're good at technical stuff.

Marcus: They're really good at technical.

Jeff: They're really good at it.

Marcus: And they understand it-

Jeff: They do.

Marcus: ... but translating that into how they reach an audience is difficult.

Jeff: The one thing that our I-Team gets from this marriage is they get better access and understanding and capacity on the data side of the house to make sure that when we talk about the changes that the I-Team makes, it's not good enough just to "make things better." We have to make sure that we did it in a measurable fashion and that we're meeting targets. Or if we're not meeting targets, we're adjusting what we're doing along the way so it's a continuous improvement cycle. That's the big vision of this Chief Innovation Officer, and working hard to get there.

Marcus: Well, that's exciting because you're the first Chief Innovation Officer for Mobile. Right?

Jeff: Yep.

Marcus: Again, First Youth Class, first youth in the Adult Leadership Class and breaking down walls, Chief Innovation Officer, man.

Jeff: I'll get you to make my commercial for me. I don't think about it like that, man. I'm just-

Marcus: Yeah, no, I get you.

Jeff: ... here to do work.

Marcus: I think it's cool. I was excited about having you on because I think people need to hear that the city is trying to get better. That we oftentimes we hear it and from the mayor, and I think he's a straight shooter. Obviously we do, because we did a bunch of stuff to try and help him get elected. But we think he's a straight shooter so we tend to believe him. But there are a lot of people that look at a politician and they just think, "Well, he's just saying those things because he wants people to believe that he's doing his job." I've oftentimes said that I view the position of mayor or the position of governor or the position of President as a person that needs to be the cheerleader for the group that they represent. That they're really casting vision for that, but it is the responsibility of the business owners and of the citizens to actually take up that mantle and move it forward. We've had that conversation a number of times on the podcast where it's not the city's job to provide good jobs in Mobile. It's the entrepreneur's job to do that. But it is the city's job to make it easy for the entrepreneur to operate and to do business. I know that you all have been, with your work with the I-Team and hopefully now continuing that as the CIO that ... Well, I guess I should take say Chief Innovation Officer because CIO is Chief Information Officer typically. But I know that you'll be continuing that effort. For people to hear from you that A, there is a Chief Innovation Officer and that the city is still looking at ways to smooth those rough edges and being self-aware and that things aren't perfect and that you're trying to get better. I think that's promising for people.

Jeff: Yeah. I'll tell you the one thing that we know for sure in the city is that things aren't perfect. The only thing we know for sure in the city is that everybody's working hard every day to make it better. I haven't had a meeting with the mayor yet that at the end of the meeting he didn't say, "Go get them." That's what he wants to see done. He wants to see these changes made. The city is better for everyone. The one thing that I see with the city right now and I kind of heard you say a little bit, but it's something that I really believe in is that you can't do anything by yourself. Everything is a team.

Marcus: Yep.

Jeff: Whether you build a large team or a small team, you have to make sure that there's a lot of respect amongst all the people on that team. They trust each other. We trust each other. You trust each other enough to say when things are good and high five. But you also have to trust each other enough to say when things are bad and really challenge one another to make things better. We do that a lot inside of the I-Team. We're doing that now in this new Innovation Department. But it's also being done at a macroscopic level. It's also being done amongst the city as a whole. The City Administration is a team. The City Council is a Team. The business owners and citizens, those are all team members.

Marcus: Yep.

Jeff: Each one of them has an important role. Neither of them could do the job for the other people. Everybody has to do their part. But we also have to keep building that trust and respect to get down to what we really need to do.

Marcus: Have you read, and if you haven't, I wouldn't be surprised. But have you ever read Startup Communities by Brad Feld?

Jeff: I have.

Marcus: You have? I think that's amazing. The whole premise of the book is that, again, going back to what we're saying, the city has to operate at a certain level, but it's up to the entrepreneurs. Also, I love that University of South Alabama and Spring Hill and University of Mobile, they're all very much trying to be a positive influence in the business community and the economic development of the area and stuff like that as well. Because I don't know that anybody is orchestrating that at a high level, but without really even trying we're kind of following the book.

Jeff: Yeah. I think if you blended that book with Maker City, I think you'd have a lot of what's going on in Mobile right now.

Marcus: It's blowing me away because ... speaking of Maker City ... earlier today we posted on our Facebook page that if you're a maker of goods in Mobile, please tag your business or let us know by making a comment or something like that. The last time I checked, there were like 50 comments.

Jeff: Nice.

Marcus: It's just blown me away. Heather Pefferkorn and I have had a number of conversations because she does The Market at The Pillars. I was blown away to hear how many people she was hearing from that were makers in the city. I don't think people realize just how much stuff is being created here, whether it's candles or art or music or whatever the goods are. I think she was talking about a young brother and sister that make bread and baked goods and stuff like that, all kinds of stuff, so. But anyway, it's cool to see that.

Jeff: It's a super-cool phenomenon. I would also venture that if there were 50 people who would call themselves makers, there's probably another 150 there who are doing great at making amazing things, but don't feel in themselves that they're able to elevate their work and name it as a maker. But Mobile is just full of that kind of talent, man. It's [crosstalk 00:30:44].

Marcus: Yeah. We're looking at ways that we can actually amplify the voices of those people. Honestly the reason why we started this podcast was to amplify the voices of business owners and the awesome things that they're doing in Mobile. Because we're unique in that as a city we have a lot of people that are entrepreneurs and that step out and do some really great things. I don't know that we celebrate that enough. It's a difficult road, and if we can give somebody a platform that allows them to get some notice and some notoriety, then by all means we'll do that. Because I just think it's hats off to those that take it upon themselves to start businesses. It's not an easy road.

Jeff: It's a good one though. I'll tell you, I was walking down here and I looked across the street and saw the graffiti mural on the side. I was very, very glad all of a sudden that I lived in Mobile. I'm glad to live in a city where Johnny Cash, Tupac, and John Lennon can be painted side-by-side.

Marcus: That is great, isn't it? I know. I love it, and it's cool because I don't know the artist that did that. But two days after Prince passed away, he had Prince up there, and you know what I mean?

Jeff: Nice.

Marcus: It's just like he is continually adding to that. I don't know. I love that aspect of what we have going on here as well, so. Now I do want to get back to some of the questions don't necessarily apply to you, but there are some that do. Are there any books, podcasts, people, or organizations that you would like to recommend or that you think would be helpful to business people.

Jeff: The number one business book I'm stuck on right now is Zero to One. It's by Peter Thiel. You know this one?

Marcus: I don't. Go ahead.

Jeff: Ah, it's amazing. Peter Thiel is the creator of PayPal-

Marcus: Yep.

Jeff: ... and thus the PayPal Mafia and Elon Musk and all of those other guys that worked there are doing amazing things. Everybody knows their name right now. I've read it once and listened to it twice. I've been really obsessed with it right now. It's such a great book. It's not just a great book about the business world. There's a lot of businesses that take one thing and try to make it from one to many, but that real active creation of going from nothing to one.

Marcus: Yeah, getting that first client or that first product that's viable.

Jeff: Yeah, is fascinating to me. But what was so fascinating to me about it again was how much focus he had on the team and building that team and how he looked at the business. So huge fan of Zero to One.

Marcus: In regards to PayPal or in regards ... because he's doing mostly venture capital investment type stuff now, isn't he?

Jeff: Yeah. He does a lot of things now. He does Palantir and does some VC stuff. But his team that he built there ... They wind up calling them the PayPal Mafia ... those guys started and ran tons of things out there.

Marcus: Yeah. They're changing the world that we ... I'm adding that to my books to read list.

Jeff: Zero to One. Got to have that one.

Marcus: Yeah. Anything else you want to add to that?

Jeff: That's my number one business book right now. I'm really kind of eclectic in everything else that I listen to and look at. One of the things that I hate about the digital world that we live in is that if you're not really, really, active and purposeful, you'll just keep getting fed the same kind of stuff over and over in our little filter bubble world. I don't really have any one thing to recommend as far as blogs or podcasts. It's pretty eclectic. I really try to jump all over the place.

Marcus: Yeah and that is totally cool. Now I'm gonna ask this question and we may have to mark it out, so. Is there a bit of advice that you would give to people that are looking to start a business in the city?

Jeff: I tell you, my best number one answer for people right now is you keep going until you find someone who says yes. Mobile is in a very, very weird time in its lifespan right now. I see Mobile more as a frontier city where anything is possible and anything will work. But starting a business, if you're starting something new and the number one thing you need is 10 people to say, "That's a great idea," you're probably not under the right space. But if you keep going, you will find this tribe of people here that really want to see Mobile do the right thing and embrace all these different ideas and all these different things. Because of that, Mobile is a place where really anything can grow here.

Marcus: Yeah, Scott Tindle's proving that. Yeah. No. Without getting into too much detail, I've found that to be true. That oftentimes if you are not speaking to the right person, whether that be somebody that you're dealing with at the city, at City Plaza ... or whether that's just doing business in general ... that just finding the right person that you should be talking to oftentimes you'll get the right answer, but you just have to be persistent and push forward.

Jeff: Yes. Keep going until somebody says yes.

Marcus: Yeah. Now how do you like to unwind?

Jeff: I'm a fisherman. I got two boys at the house. Right now I am 0 and two, my last two games of NBA 2K17 against my 12-year-old. We won't talk about the 30 games before that, but.

Marcus: I'm sure he gets a lot more practice time than you do.

Jeff: His practice time is higher than mine. But no, I spend time with family and fishing, being outside, is kind of my thing.

Marcus: Now if people want to understand more about some of the changes that are gonna be happening, because I recognize you are just getting started, so there might not be a whole lot. But is there a place where they can keep tabs on all of that?

Jeff: That'll be coming soon.

Marcus: It will be.

Jeff: That'll be coming soon.

Marcus: Okay. Right. Well, I want to thank you, again, for coming on the podcast. I know that this is outside what we normally talk about here, but I felt because of your position and the influence that you have over what business owners care about that it was very important to have you on. I want to thank you for your time. Anything else that you'd like to add or comments you want to make? Thoughts?

Jeff: No. Thanks for having me. Enjoyed it.

Marcus: Yeah. Very good. Well, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me, and it's been great having you on.

Jeff: Cool.

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