As you read this issue, please observe the nomination form for the annual 40 Leaders Under Forty on page 48. I also ask you to take note of the young folks with whom you come in contact regularly. Think about their contributions—not just to your business, but to the community as well.

Were it not for them, this area wouldn’t be what it is. And without them, it won’t be even better in the future. Young leadership is easy to find in our communities and it’s quite likely someone you know deserves to be among the nominees for this award.

This is the 13th year we’ve requested your help in singling out the outstanding young leaders of our communities. If my math is correct, that means we now can have many former honorees nominating those who’ll follow them. That’s a healthy situation—if you take the “glass-half-full” view, it means we’re retaining our top talent and nurturing the next generation.

Experts say retaining talent is something communities often overlook. (I’d reiterate my contention that communities also don’t spend enough time retaining older talent, but that’s another issue.) They say much of the time and effort spent attracting young professionals should be spent keeping those you have.

I’d like to think that 40 Leaders Under Forty is a step in that direction. But it’s not just the program itself, it’s people like you who recognize talent and take steps to help others recognize it, too.
40 Leaders Under Forty predates those people (most of whom are Generation Xers) who tell us we need to recast our cities to avoid becoming retirement communities. While there’s certainly some foundation to what they say, life isn’t as black and white as many of them picture it. I’m certainly not under 40 (and neither are many in the upper limits of Generation X), but I enjoy the coffee shops, parks, outside dining opportunities, etc., we’re told we must have to keep young talent from leaving.

In genealogical terms, I remember a generation being 25 years. Maybe it’s shortened these days with the technological differences just a few years can make. Oh, I know it’s tough to think of someone 10-or-so years younger than you as the “next generation,” but it’s a different era now. iPods, wireless broadband in every room of the house—all relatively recent. Guess you don’t have to be old to feel old the way technology moves along.

So, don’t scope out your 40 Leaders nominee through a young vs. old lens. Look for someone you relate to—someone we all could relate to—and appreciate. Look for someone who’s not only making a contribution now, but who you think will make a contribution in the future. IBI