A Response to the Forbes ‘Miserable’ Article.

I read the Forbes article and enjoyed reading Chuck and Isaac’s response. 

I respectfully submit the following thoughts: 

1. Don’t rely on magazine articles for your self-esteem. These articles make some valid points but lacks the context necessary for real analysis. Our community is not all good or all bad. Some people in our community are hurting and that hurts me and should hurt you too.  For most people, we know where we were, we know how far we have come, and we know the work ahead.

2. Look around our community – look in the mirror, look at your neighbors, people across town, folks who work in the public and private sectors, rich, poor, black, white, Hispanic, etc. For better or worse, this is our team.  If we work together, then we will continue to create positive change. If we don’t, no outside group can do it for us.      

 “What happens in the White House is important; however, what happens in my house is more important.”  What happens on my street, my place of business, my kid’s school, and my church is more important.  Nobody from outside is going to help us through our challenges: not Washington and not Springfield. Long-term, I would bet on my town before I would bet on either one of those towns.  This is our team.

 3. Too many Gen X and Y men are fathers but not dads.  Local religious leaders, political leaders, and adult men of all ages and races need to stop talking around this topic. Long-term community transformation is impossible without improvement in this area. Fathers need to be more part of the team!

 4. More young people need to go to church.  This part of my life could use some improvement.  Educational growth is important but so is spiritual growth. This will strengthen our team.

 5. Change is incremental and that’s ok. To use a baseball analogy, we need to base-hit vs. homerun our way to transformation. And, we need to get better at celebrating small wins. This creates a sense of momentum on the team.

 6. Some really smart people have great ideas that will help improve our community.  However, having a good idea is one thing and selling that great idea is another. Yes, sometimes people resist change. Get over it. Work through it. We need less press conferences and more coffee meetings.  We need fewer memos and more chats over a beer.  We need to keep talking when we disagree. Why? Because this is our team.    

 7. Most people in business are hard working and honest people.  Most people in education are hard working and honest people too.  If these two groups continue to work together, then our community will continue to transform. If business and education can work together, then I don’t see why in-roads can’t be made with labor and management as well as within political circles.  Again, this is our team!  And there is only one team!

8.  When it comes to educational attainment levels, we all need to take a “next step.”  In many ways, some of our challenges are no different than other communities – Baby Boomers will be retiring in large numbers and we need younger people ready to fill these jobs.  Baby Boomers also need to continue to focus on growing leaders within their organizations and this community; not just holding on to power. I believe that there are many who understand this concept and they will be the ones who leave the biggest legacy.  At the end of the day, we need to grow our farm club.  Why?  This strengthens our team.

 9. Gen X, Y, and Millennia’s need to step-up.  We need to challenge ourselves first, our peers second, and others third.  We need to challenge old thinking and bad ideas.  We need to rally around good ideas. Why? The team needs you more than ever and your involvement will determine what future articles say about our community. 

The people at Forbes don’t need to like our team….  But we sure do!  I like my team and I believe in my team.  Don’t you?




  1. Tricia Diduch

    Agreed, Frank. We all have roles to play – most of us have small ones while only a few have large ones. But if we all stepped up to play our small roles, how could we not continue to turn the tide to prosperity? I wonder if one short term solution is offering the community simple, concrete and quick projects that drum up support – like micro-ShareFests? Going to stew on this one for awhile…

  2. I spend a lot of time traveling city to city on weekends. The one thing I have noticed is as soon as we leave Rockford people are much nicer. It’s day and night. If we don’t want to be called one of the most miserable cities in the country, then we need to stop acting so miserable. Usually I take these trips with my oldest. This weekend the whole family came. On the way home my wife asked why haven’t we moved away yet. It’s shocking how different things are even an hour away.

    This isn’t an education issue. This isn’t a church issue. This isn’t a father issue. It doesn’t take pockets full of money to smile and say hello. We have a kindness issue. The city is such a dump that it has worn us all down. Add in the fact every year someone points out what a hole we live in and we have let it get to us. This just isn’t a Rockford problem either. You can include all the little towns outside of Rockford. We need more love and less hate if we ever want to not be the taint of america.

  3. Church attendance is not the problem. Churches have there own problems. Interpreting the BIble’s good and BAD cannot cure a city in ruins. For many years, this city rejected a casino. There was a huge opportunity. Now that they want it its probably too late. Bad decisions by leaders and resident that don’t care either way are the problem. Rockford is doomed. It appears it will be that way for a long time.

  4. Caleb Wilson

    This is an awesome response to the Forbes rankings. I 100% agree with everything you said.