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Banking on KC's 100th Episode!

Banking on KC's 100th Episode!

Listen now, or read the transcript below:

 

Kelly Scanlon:

Welcome to Banking on KC. I'm your host Kelly Scanlon. Thank you for joining us. This episode marks our 100th episode of Banking on KC and today we're very fortunate to have Mary O'Connor, the Executive Vice President of Creative Brand Management and Joe Close, the President of Country Club Bank join us with some reflections on the past, insights into the present and aspirations for Kansas City's future. Welcome, Mary and Joe.

Mary O'Connor:

Hi Kelly.

Joe Close:

Hi Kelly. Good to be with you today.

Kelly Scanlon:

Yes. So good to have you both here and just first of all, before we talk about anything else, congratulations on this 100th episode. I don't know if you realize what an achievement that is. For example, just several months ago, I think it was back in April, I read a report on the state of podcasting and it said that of the 2 million podcasts that are supposedly out there, and I'm not just talking about episodes I'm talking about actual podcasts like Banking on KC, that about 44% have three or fewer episodes that they've produced. So they produce a few and then they're abandoned. But Country Club Bank has stayed committed and now we have a hundred with this episode today. So again, congratulations and a huge thank you too to all of our listeners who tune in every week.

Mary O'Connor:

Well thanks Kelly. And we are really excited and we are committed to Kansas City, but it's hard to believe we've hit a hundred already. That said, I'll just say there's thousands of stories out there. And that's what's really exciting to us in this podcast, to be able to feature so many different people who are all lighting up Kansas City with the things that they do.

Joe Close:

Kelly, it's so gratifying that I see someone out at church or at a social gathering, and they'll talk about a specific episode. It's really just a gift to Kansas City. And in my inbox this morning, I looked and there was an episode with Mindy Corporon and it's just a wonderful story that she has to share coming out of the tragedy. What she's learned from that and what she's given back to the community. And it's really wonderful to share those with our associates as well as the greater Kansas City at large.

Kelly Scanlon:

Yes. And I get emails too from people who are guests who say that they have had lots of people reach out to them. So it's a very important thing that you're doing here with the podcast. And Mary, I know that when you embarked on this journey a few years ago, you had a very specific goal in mind and that focus hasn't changed. Tell us about that vision and why it's been so important to you.

Mary O'Connor:

Well, Country Club Bank is a hometown local bank, we're specific to Kansas City. And so these are really the people that we know, that we have the privilege of meeting as we go along our way through Kansas City. And there are so many great stories. And for us to have the opportunity, just telling the stories of what people are doing that are either changemakers or inspirational in various different ways and take a moment to encourage others really was half the fun. You know, we are living in times that are pretty divisive right now, but I think that this is a city full of people who really do want to work together, want to support each other.

Mary O'Connor:

And so for us to be able to give a platform to them, to give voice to the voiceless, even for those whose stories may be well-known, to encourage others in hearing those stories and thinking really what a great city it is that we live in. It's just really a privilege for us. When people tell me we hear your podcast, I love your podcast. I always laugh and say, well, because we don't talk about ourselves, we really have the privilege of talking about so many other people whose stories are so great in Kansas City.

Kelly Scanlon:

I think that's why it's so popular and so well-received.

Joe Close:

Part of the fun Kelly is when we're talking internally about prospective guests and we get energized and you can just feel the energy that we share with one another. Hey, I think this person would be great. Hey, how about this one? And based upon what we heard in one podcast that makes us think of a linkage to some other organization or some other business in Kansas City. And that's really been one of the joys of this entire process to me.

Mary O'Connor:

I agree with Joe. There's so much opportunity here. There are so many rich stories to be told still. It's just fun to think how many more that we get to put a spotlight on as we go.

Kelly Scanlon:

Over the last two years, we've really been very fortunate to interview a diverse group of guests. That's what I like the most about it. They range from nonprofit leaders to entrepreneurs and innovators, civic and political leaders. We've had the mayor on, economic development professionals and the list just goes on and on, truly representing a cross-section of the Kansas City region. Now, I know you both listen to each episode. So when you think about the messages that our guests have delivered, have you heard any commonalities in that messaging and what are they and what insights do you think they reveal about Kansas City?

Mary O'Connor:

Well, this is a diverse city and you see people coming from all different aspects of it. But the common thread I think in the podcasts is these are not people who are unfamiliar with the adversity. Pretty much everybody on the podcast at some point speaks about the challenges that they've had. But what they have in common is their ability to face those challenges and think, how am I going to get around this? Or how am I going to reach out to somebody? What partnership can I find? Where do I go to just get over the hurdle? They are not people who think there is no way to get around this. They're just always figuring out what is the next best step. I have a little sign above my monitor that says never let a single defeat be a final defeat. And I think sometimes we just have to remember that. And that is certainly a common thread.

Kelly Scanlon:

Joe, I know you do the closing for every episode so you've become very familiar with some of the guests and their messages and some of the things that they have accomplished and their challenges. And so, what's your take on that?

Joe Close:

Well, I know some of the guests, I know them well, and I always find out new things about them or their projects when we record them. I think that every single one of our guests is approachable. It feels like you're sitting down with a cup of tea and just having a conversation with them. But really when I was reflecting on it, they really demonstrate leadership and they demonstrate leadership in business or philanthropy, the arts. As Mary said, they have typically overcome great obstacles to achieve. And they're just normal people, everyday people that were faced with some circumstances that they wanted to overcome, that they had to overcome. We talk about a dearth of leadership and our divisive political backdrop. These people are all normal. They're real, they're authentic. They're people that I want to hang out with, frankly. And they're inspirational. They inspire me to be better. They inspire me to do more. And I think, gee, if not now, when? If not me, who? So they make me want to get up and get busy.

Kelly Scanlon:

You really hit on something there, Joe. I have noticed the same thing. These are people who when they see something or when they're not happy with the way things are going, they don't sit back and think, oh, somebody else will take care of that. Or, I need to get permission or whatever it might be, whatever excuse that many people might use to say, ah, that's not my responsibility. These people jump in feet first and just go at it with their all and their passion and get things done.

Mary O'Connor:

Absolutely Kelly. And there's a positivity in that. These are unusual times and there is a lot of what feels like division being played up. And these are people who lead with positivity and pull people up and pull people together. And in that ability to come together as a city, I think the podcast really represents what Kansas City really is. Whatever else you may hear and see in the media and the world around us, this is authentically what we are. This is a city of people who really are in all different walks of life, committed to each other, committed to the city as a whole, committed to doing better and want to come together in that. And so I hope it gives us a weekly boost on, oh, that's right, we are all one. That's why I've always loved E Pluribus Unum, out of many, one. And that would be my hope that this is a regular voice saying all of these things are possible. All of these different stories walk as one. And they all walk in Kansas City and we are all sisters and brethren to each other.

Kelly Scanlon:

It's been a message that's come through with each of our guests during the pandemic. What they have done, not only to adapt themselves, their own businesses or their own organizations, but how they have reached out to others and brought different groups together. Or they see somebody who the pandemic has really marginalized them even more and they've reached out and then they share with our listeners how they can help as well. I like that part too, where there's always an option for our listeners to get involved too.

Mary O'Connor:

Agreed. It gives us an opportunity when you think, what can I do? What can one person do? Well with every single podcast, I have a memory of like, oh, I could do that. Or it inspires you to like, how can I elevate this particular person or the effort that they're making?

Joe Close:

So Kelly, I think about it as a Venn diagram. I was fascinated with Venn diagrams when I was a kid in grade school and the overlapping circles. And I just think if we could draw all these guests up on a map in Kansas City, the overlap that they would have. We don't have to go through Kevin Bacon for the six degrees of separation. There are very few degrees, if any, of separation with any of our guests. And I think that's what's so neat. I can get in the car and I can drive down Prospect Avenue and I can hear and feel and see what's going on on that avenue, the rebirth along that corridor or KCK or Westport, we've talked about that, or the riverfront. There's so many exciting things that I'm not separated from it all. And so when I think about it that way, and I think about the boundaries that sometimes occur in our minds, these podcasts help us eliminate those boundaries. And those Venn circles all seem to meld in together to make Kansas City.

Kelly Scanlon:

That's a great example, Joe. I'm going to shift gears here a little bit and ask each of you the same question that I ask most of our guests. And that is where is the opportunity in Kansas City today?

Mary O'Connor:

Well, one place there's opportunity is just the ability to use Kansas City as a beacon of this is what other cities can be too. Now midwesterners, we're a pretty friendly crowd and pretty willing to stop and help somebody else and be interested in someone else. We pull over the side of the road, I can remember my dad as kids he'd see somebody standing in a rainstorm and he'd ask if they needed a ride. Whether that's a good thing to do or not, it's just the way we were sort of brought up that you see others in need and you do what you can. And that place that we come from, I think as a city as a whole, you've got people who really want to work together and are entrepreneurial. It's a very diverse city in every way. I mean, we're spread wide and economically as well in the different kinds of businesses we have here.

Mary O'Connor:

And so if we truly can be an example of this is what happens when you come together with positivity and know each other, know each other's stories and find that common good. That sounds maybe Pollyanna, but I really truly believe it is something that we can light the way, and especially in a time where we need more positivity. I heard, I'll use Dina Newman by example of what she was doing at Center for Urban Neighborhoods. I didn't know her and I just called her and said, I want to know you. I want to know more about your story and what you're doing. And we went to breakfast, she was nice and put up with my request. And two and a half hours later, I was saying, you're my new old friend. And I think that's what we can help others and see that this really is a community, that you don't have to wait for somebody to meet you in different ways. We can reach out to each other.

Kelly Scanlon:

That's so true. Mary. I know working in the entrepreneurial community for so many years, you could call on people and for the most part, they would take your call. And I'm talking about even legacy people like Henry Block and Barnett Helzberg and others like that, would take my call or agree to meet with me. And I think that that is, I don't want to say it's unique to Kansas City, but I think it's something that's pretty special to Kansas City.

Mary O'Connor:

Right. I mean, Lamar Hunt was so kind to be on the podcast and was telling us what he was doing with his project on the ice hockey and the Mavericks. And Mayor Lucas, the same thing. These are people who certainly could tell us no, but very generously say yes, let me tell you what's going on and how we can make it better here.

Joe Close:

And Mary and Kelly, one of the things that resonates with me is the concept of stewardship and Lamar brought that up. We're all just stewards of an organization or our city or a district, whatever it may be, or a company. And so we want to be the best stewards we can and we think about passing it on. We want to improve it and pass it along and put it in safe hands moving forward. And I just think about looking back in history, whether that be the Black Archives and really understanding how we got here or things going on with the Negro Leagues and going down to that museum and really understanding the context of that game and how it was played and that society. How we can improve in the future, let's not replay and then make the mistakes of the past. And I'm enthused about it.

Joe Close:

You say, where does opportunity lie in Kansas City? My answer is everywhere. Because there's somebody that's, disruptive technologies are abundant these days, but disruptive thinking is everywhere as well. Think different. Think differently. It's happening everywhere. And it's just so exciting to see people that think differently. They think differently from me, but just differently from conventional wisdom. And I think that's going to bring us into the future. And I think the future is very bright for Kansas City.

Kelly Scanlon:

Given everything that you've mentioned in the last few minutes, all of those advantages that we have going into the future, what do you think that future is going to look like five, 10, 20 years down the road?

Mary O'Connor:

Well, I think the more we get to know each other, the stronger of an environment we'll have. And so when you look at five, 10, 20 years, the more we know each other, the more that's why I like the name of this podcast, Banking on Kansas City. We are banking on Kansas City. And the more we come to know each other and really understand each other's stories and enjoy each other, then that translates in the culture of the city, in the economy of the city as we can pull each other up. So I truly do believe Kansas is completely set to have incredible growth in the future. And we're just happy to stay on the sideline, cheer it on and help where we can.

Joe Close:

When I think about the future Kelly, I think about my children who are in college. I think about some of the people who are my children's age or could be my children that I work with. And I'm reminded about five years ago, I was driving down the road with a young colleague and he was scrolling on his phone. I thought he was on Facebook or just doing something social media. He was looking up some information that was germane to what our conversation was. Right there on the fly, he got the answer. And then that prompted another question. And then he found that answer and we could research that. So I think when I look at technology, how we can use that as a tool to improve and accelerate our learning, one thing that I do think is extremely important, however, and that is people let's say in my generation of 50 to 60-year-olds, it's really important for us to connect face to face with some of the people that are millennials and gen Z.

Joe Close:

It's very important for all of us up and down generational lines to connect and share stories because we don't want to make the mistakes of the past. And as they say, history doesn't necessarily repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes. I think that we can mix that together with the youth and all the power at their fingertips as far as technology goes. And the sky is truly the limit for Kansas City. I think COVID really has enforced an evolutionary change in the way we do business, where we live, where we work, where we play, what we want and just how we conduct our lives. And I think we have to seize on that opportunity. And I think that some of the demonstrations that took place, I think that's very important for us to reckon with some of those things that occurred in our past right here in Kansas City and get them out on the open and discuss them, have conversations, dignified conversations, civil conversation, civil discourse.

Joe Close:

One of my favorite events that I've ever attended was Sly James and Joe Reardon talking at Rockhurst University. The mayors respectively at that time of KCK and KCMO having a civil discourse about our future together. There wasn't competition between those two municipalities. There was a cooperative effort and it was just wonderful to be a part of that. And I just see bridges being built all over this community and hopefully, this podcast will help inform people about what bridge they need to cross to meet their neighbor.

Kelly Scanlon:

If you could leave our listeners with just one message today, what would it be?

Mary O'Connor:

I would say out of many, one. I just encourage people to come together as we are, the city that we are. And to set aside all of the opportunities for division and know each other's stories. And if you look back across the hundred stories that we've done so far, there is such a beauty in each one of them. And to look at all the different people that we have the opportunity to be with. But the one thing I would encourage is to know each other, to come together and listen to each other and the stories that we each uniquely have.

Joe Close:

Kelly, I'd say the one thing I think is the takeaway in my mind is get to know your city. Get to know your hometown. Whether you grew up here like Mary did, or whether you moved here in the middle of your life, like I did. This is our hometown. There's so many corners of it that we have not explored, so many corners to explore. Whether that be the Nelson, whether it be the Black Archives, the riverfront, some people haven't even ridden the street car, which I can't imagine. So get to know your hometown. Get out of your comfort zone a little bit. Get in your car, take a drive, take a walk and explore. Just get out and explore Kansas City.

Kelly Scanlon:

Mary, Joe, thank you so much for all that Country Club Bank does to build community, to bring people together and to see that bigger picture. We're so fortunate to have you as part of our community. And congratulations again on the 100 episode milestone of Banking on KC.

Mary O'Connor:

Thanks, Kelly. And we really appreciate you doing this.