Tag Archives: people

Road tripping

Today I travelled over 460 miles which is well over 700km, so it’s timely I post about roading – both the serious and light-hearted side.  I started in Reno, Nevada which is like the Desert Road and finished in Twin Falls, Idaho which is like a cross between Waikato and Canterbury.  In between is massive wide open spaces that pictures just don’t do justice. Photo of the freeway in Nevada…


Geothermal Development Associates

This mornings meeting was with Geothermal Development Associates in Reno.  Martin and David are gentlemen and pioneers in the geothermal industry, having started their business in 1978.  They do a considerable amount of work offshore and have a strong connection to New Zealand through working with companies and involvement with the New Zealand Geothermal Association.  They gave some excellent insights into geothermal direct use, my favourite of which was fruit and vegetable dehydration.  They walk the talk with ground source heat pumps for cooling and heating in their own building.

Now back to transport…

You can’t help but travel on the freeways in the United States and marvel at them.  The ones I have been on range between 2 and 6 lanes.  The size and design of the roads combined with courteous driving enables the speed limits to be up to 75 miles per hour, which is 120km.  There’s nothing like going 120km and having trucks barrelling past you like you are standing still, but then again I haven’t driven on an Autobahn either!  I compare my trip today with the stretch from Bulls to Wellington in New Zealand…well enough said!  I’ve had one toll so far – $5…and for the standard of roads I don’t mind paying (at least you are not charged tax on top like most other things so far).

What you see and who you meet along the way

Three highlights today of things I saw today:

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  • For anyone worried about property prices, you can go and live on green saddle ranch at these great prices…

And the people…I’m stumbling my way through simple tasks like lifting fuel nozzles and pressing buttons for drinks.  So far every time people have been more than obliging to help the hapless Kiwi.  Even when I refused a homeless person some change, the polite response was “God Bless” (I can’t bring myself to blog on homeless just yet).

So, how about that New Zealand’s roading network?  Roads can better connect people and business while reducing transport costs, travel time and accidents.  Does that outweigh communities like Pokeno that lose out when the fast road goes through…what would happen if there was a freeway between Auckland and Wellington for example?


Competitive places – what makes them?

In search of the secret recipe

At the heart of my current research is the question – why do some places thrive and others not?  Is there a secret recipe?

In spending the last year organising my trip I’ve been trying to track down people who have insights into the above questions.  One example is some research being undertaken by the World Bank called Competitive Cities.

I was fortunate to be able to speak to one of the researchers, Z. Joe Kulenovic prior to departing for the United States as, unfortunately, our paths won’t cross stateside.

What is the research about?

The Competitive Cities research identified cities that have outperformed other cities regionally and nationally.  They are predominantly medium-sized and secondary cities (not mega cities) and have different contexts in terms of location and industries.

What does the research say and how is this relevant to the provinces outside cities?

My insight of the research so far is that people are the key differentiator in determining success.  It’s almost too simple – can growth really be down to the collective creativity of people and their actions?  What does this mean for the place where you live?

It reminded me of the Jim Collins ‘Good to Great’ book.

“In each of these dramatic, remarkable, good-to-great corporate transformations, we found the same thing: There was no miracle moment. Instead, a down-to-earth, pragmatic, committed-to-excellence process—a framework—kept each company, its leaders, and its people on track for the long haul.”

Watch this space later this year when the research is published.  I wonder what a similar research project on non-city locations would find?  In the meantime, here’s an interesting read on property prices in cities from the World Bank.