The verdict is in, folks: St. Petersburg is one sad sack of depressed losers. According to Men's Health, if we aren't trying to kill ourselves with antidepressants because none of us have jobs, we will be soon enough. On the brightside, Men's Health doesn't consider St. Pete the overall worst city for men. It's only the 6th worst. Oh, and Tampa, don't think you have bragging rights. You're not doing so hot, either (and neither are you, Miami, Jacksonville, and Orlando).
Let's face it: It's easy to dismiss these lists. They get published so often it's hard to take any of them seriously. However, Tampa Bay consistently ranks low. Why? I couldn't be sure, but here's what I think:
The Tampa Bay business community does little to foster creativity. This is a region of strip malls, chain restaurants, shoddy condo complexes, and poorly managed sports teams. Yes, I realize the same could be said for many other places throughout the U.S., but I believe the difference lies in the fact that many businesses in this region do not strive for excellence. They are lazy. They rely on getting by with doing the bare minimum (if that) and leaving it at that. For certain businesses, that's acceptable (but undesirable). For others, not so much. By choosing not to embrace creativity as a major factor in achieving success, these businesses, some of which are quite large, end up hurting not only themselves but the community at large.
How? When businesses don't work to improve the quality of their own output, whether it be a product, a service, or both, they become stagnant. They do little to encourage their employees to work harder and smarter and even less to reward them when they do. Of course, these employees begin to lose interest (and hope) and fall into a pattern of doing the bare minimum. Eventually, they are let go, adding to Tampa Bay's unemployment rate and sending St Pete's Sadness Meter™ into a frenzy.
But it's more than simple laziness and lack of encouragement that keeps many Tampa Bay businesses from flourishing. It's a lack of geniuine enthusiasm and commitment to originality. Striving to be a little different than the other guy. To make a splash. To change the world. I won't say that this isn't happening in the Tampa Bay region whatsoever, but it's barely registering on the radar.
Luckily, it's an easy fix. Simply put, we all need to be more creative. We as a community need to come together and establish, true, progressive, and meaningful connections with each other. By creating and embracing world-changing ideas that can make our lives better, there will be no question that we are indeed a happy place.
Tampa Bay isn't going to fix itself. Florida isn't going to fix itself. Floridians are.
Stop crying. Start creating.