May 7, 2012
It’s a common subject amongst Cincinnatians these days. I’m referring, of course, to the Cincinnati Renaissance… the feeling of revitalization, progress, and overall positive juju. That’s right folks, Cincinnati is a city on the rise, and while we can all give ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done, Dan Lincoln might be the man at the forefront of the change we are all seeing take shape. Lincoln is the President and CEO at the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau.
iSPYCINCY recently interviewed Lincoln to discuss, among other things, excitement over the upcoming World Choir Games, greatest inspirations, and what tops the bucket list.
iSPY: What inspires you and/or who do you count as your greatest inspirations?
LINCOLN: Cincinnati is my inspiration and all of the transformative moments that have made it great. Going head-to-head with first-tier cities like Las Vegas and Orlando for major conventions wouldn’t be possible if not for those moments that often turn into great opportunities. Take the NAACP, LULAC and the World Choir Games as examples. Going after these events – and winning them – that inspires me to keep thinking big, on a national and even a global level. My motivation lies in challenging the region to think big with me. On a personal level, my family is a constant reminder for me to think outside the box. Between my 84-year-old father who annually donates his time to small villages in Guatemala facilitating medical treatment for villagers and my nine-year-old son who refuses to let me take life too seriously, inspiration surrounds me. That’s a very good place to be.
iSPY: How has your journalism and PR background, shaped your outlook and enhanced your skill in your current position?
LINCOLN: Be concise and get to the headline. Focus on what’s important, the big idea, the “so what.”
iSPY: Cincinnati is said to be undergoing a Renaissance… from the revitalization of downtown and OTR, to the startup community, to an event like the World Choir Games. Therefore, to what would you attribute this growth and what are some of the plans within the Convention and Visitors Bureau to further develop Cincinnati’s image into one of a destination city?
LINCOLN: A focus on self-awareness. The last eight to 10 years continually forced us to look inward and assess where we are as a city and where we could be. The outcome of that self-reflection was dynamic new visions and motivation to be a better city by working together as a region. The collective visions of the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati Chambers and new political and business leadership have injected fresh ideas into our community. The phenomenal efforts of 3CDC that have resulted in the development of Downtown and Over-The-Rhine. Those examples, along with many others, have transformed our identity into a world-class destination for the tourism and meetings industries.
The most impressive part of that story, our story, is that we achieved that transformation in a challenging economy that could have defeated us. But it didn’t. It made us better. It made us stronger, and it proves what we can do when we really push ourselves. That type of motivation and momentum will continue to grow and propel us for years to come.
In regard to the CVB’s vision, we’re going to continue working to change perceptions and how we function as a global community. By the end of this year, we’ll have successfully hosted the top 12 of the top 25 African American conventions and the World Choir Games. Events like this help us to look outside of ourselves to find innovative ways to tell and continue writing our story about our thriving city.
iSPY: Speaking in particular about the World Choir Games… can you explain how big of a “win” hosting the games is for the city and what we can look forward to in the upcoming months as well as the games themselves?
LINCOLN: The World Choir Games in Cincinnati are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this community. Not only do we get to showcase Cincinnati, our arts, culture, and entertainment options to the world, we have the opportunity to welcome tens of thousands of visitors and show them what a wonderful community we are. These Games have brought out the very best of our community — from our thousands of volunteers who began signing up the moment we announced the Games in June 2009, to our amazing corporations, donors and sponsors who have embraced this opportunity with open arms. We know that when we do these Games well, other national and international opportunities will line up to call Cincinnati their ‘host city,’ and we are really, really excited and energized by that.
iSPY: If you had to describe yourself in a word what would it be and why?
LINCOLN: When I first took this position, a writer described me as “intense yet approachable.” Being described as ‘intense’ was surprising at first, but I thought about it and I came to understand and see it. I like to say I’m extremely focused vs ‘intense.’
iSPY: If you had to describe Cincinnati in a word, what would it be and why?
Beautiful look at historic Cincinnati with Music Hall and Union Terminal in the background
LINCOLN: Beautiful. It’s in the hills. It’s in the views, the river. I find it in the small towns and historic architecture – especially in Over-The-Rhine and City Hall. The region constantly takes my breath away. Living here, it’s easy to take it all for granted because you get used to it. But the really unique advantage of my job is that I am constantly seeing the region’s beauty through a visitor’s eyes. Every day I get to discover its beauty for the first time.
iSPY: What is top on your bucket list, both personally and professionally?
LINCOLN: My bucket list is in constant flux. A couple of constants include getting a league higher in hockey and riding camels in the shadows of the pyramids. Although every item that finds its way on my list goes back to one quote that I try to live by. It essentially says that I always want to strive to go for the big ideas because even if I fail that will be better than not trying at all.
iSPY: Any mottos to live by?
LINCOLN: “A few can touch the magic string, / And noisy Fame is proud to win them: / Alas for those that never sing, / But die with all their music in them!” - Oliver Wendell Holmesto top ↑