Serving Up Food for Comfort: Downtown Dish and Kansas City’s Restaurant Re-emergence

When the City of Kansas City, Missouri instituted the Stay-at-Home order, our local food, beverage and retail businesses were effectively shut down overnight. Just like that, a once integral part of the Kansas City scene was struggling to find a way to keep their doors open. And just like us, friends and fans wondered what they could do support their favorite establishments. From that need came the idea for The Downtown Dish, a virtual weekly show that highlights what’s on the menu, on tap and on special.

Hosted by professional writer, downtown devotee and food fanatic, Katy Schamberger (@katywrites), and sponsored by the Downtown Council, Downtown Neighborhood Association, KC Streetcar, Lynchpin Ideas and the districts of Downtown Kansas City, the Downtown Dish will point you to what ‘s happening on the re-emerging dining and shopping scenes.

To read more on Downtown Dish, view City Scene’s Kevin Collison story here:

Who Do You Need 10 More of? … and More to Ponder About a Recruitment Campaign

COVID-19 has disrupted business as we know it. But amid the shifts and challenges, one thing remains the same: Your organization’s greatest asset is its people. Especially those you consider your best and brightest. You appreciate them for their work ethic and love them for their loyalty. But … how the heck do you find more just like them? A well-devised recruitment campaign is a great start, and make sure it says much more than just “Now Hiring” by pondering the following questions.

Who Are You, as an Employer?
You could find the perfect potential hire on paper, but if they don’t mesh with your company’s brand, values and culture, you won’t be happy … and neither will they. Ask yourself, “If my company was a person, how would I describe them?”

Who Do People Think You Are?
Do a deep dive on your reputation. It’s as easy as looking at your company profile on sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn to learn what, if any, negative or incorrect perceptions are out there. If you see them, your candidates do, too. The right campaign can help correct and even overcome misperceptions.

Who Do You Need 10 More Of?
In preparing to cast out your net, think about who exactly you’re fishing for. An increase in applicants means nothing if they’re not the right applicants. Create a profile of your ideal candidate with input from supervisors, human resources — and maybe even your star employees themselves.

How Can You Connect With Your Ideal Candidate?
Don’t think of it as talking to every potential candidate: think of it as talking only to the ones you hope will respond. If this sounds a lot like marketing, that’s because it is. You’ve got to pitch your company to your candidates with the same care as you do to your customers. After all, there is more to your company than “have we have a job for you!” or “we’ll pay you well.”

It Doesn’t End With “You’re Hired”
Find ways to bring that brand into your internal communication materials — use the same voice when you speak to employees that hooked them when they were just applicants. Never stop reminding them why they chose to work here and most important, why they should stay.


Blog Post by communications specialist Abby Beck

More Candidates Than Jobs? Don’t just hire anyone, hire the “right” one.

Almost overnight, millions of Americans lost their jobs due to the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Likewise, thousands of essential businesses find themselves in search of help to meet an overwhelming need for more employees. And while times of health and economic uncertainty are certainly not trail markers for hiring, it does highlight how very important it is for employers to make sure that they capture the attention of the top candidates out there … right fit for them.

Sure, you could just post ads that say, “now hiring” but that casts a very wide net. And the truth is, you don’t just want someone who can do the job — you want someone who embodies your company’s values and even the very essence of your brand.

So how do you do that?

Be intentional … and don’t just cast a net: launch an employment campaign that will speak directly to the type of top talent you want to hire and is also true to your brand.

And although the time to start thinking about your recruitment campaign is before you need help, there’s no time like the present. Wondering how to get started? Begin by asking yourself: Who do you need 10 more of?

Blog Post by communications specialist Alli Bertz

Ding Ding! Lynchpin Ideas is onboard to help spread the news about KC Streetcar Main Street Extension

Lynchpin Ideas is soon to embark on a new adventure in our official role helping handle community engagement on the KC Streetcar Main Street Extension. Our firm will serve as a subcontractor to HDR Engineering, the firm leading the final design, and will team up with Parson + Associates to provide communications services as work progresses on the line.

As an original advocate of the KC Streetcar in its earliest days of inception, Laura Lynch says being selected as a member of the project team is both a personal and professional honor. “KC Streetcar is beyond a mode of transportation: It’s an immersive experience that transforms neighborhoods, one block at a time. I’ve been a believer since it was an idea shared with me by my friend, mentor, and former KCATA Board Member and Communications Chair Teri Rogers,” said Laura.

Laura’s passion for KC Streetcar even factored into the location of Lynchpin Ideas’ office, the historic Parkside Plaza building at 4550 Main Street, which literally gives Lynchpin Ideas a front row view of the planned extension. “We’re fortunate to be part of this amazing team, and incredibly excited to play a role in supporting KC Streetcar’s journey southward,” said Laura.

On Thursday, April 16, 2020, the Kansas City Council approved Design Professional and Construction Manager at Risk contracts, allowing the KC Streetcar Main Street Extension project to move forward with design and pre-construction activities later this year. To view the full media release shared by KC Streetcar, visit:

Want a Better Brand? Mind The Details.

Picture this: you walk into a house that’s for sale. On the left, you see a thoughtfully designed living room. Instantly, you start forming an idea about the people who live there. Then you glance to the right, and see an office in total disarray—dog toys strewn on the floor, papers everywhere, stacks of books. Yes, this could anyone’s home office, even mine…actually, it is mine. But I digress. What do those contrasting sights tell you, a prospective buyer, about the condition of the place? Does it hint that some parts of the house are well-cared for, while others are ignored? Are you left questioning if the place is truly for YOU?

So it goes with brands, too. The most solid logo and tagline won’t uphold your brand if your messaging isn’t just as strong. If the language in your ads, on your website, on social media and even your emails’ out-of-office message tell your story in a slightly different way, that’s bad. As in a long-horizontal-crack-in-your-home’s-foundation kind of bad.

And let’s not forget the people who who represent your brand. When asked to explain what your organization or product or city or whatever is all about, do they answer the same way, and on message? Or do they wing it and put their own spin on the story? If it’s the latter, they are undermining your brand every time they open their mouths. Ouch, your brand’s foundational crack just got wider.

The takeaway? Details shape — and sustain — your brand. And your messaging is the carrier of those details.

Just like that house making its debut on the market, your brand gets one chance to make a first impression. So get your brand story right and tight. Stick to the message, follow the brand guidelines. Make sure everyone on the team understands why it matters, and is willing and able share it in the very same way. Put your brand’s house in order, mind the details, and you’ll stand out … right from the get-go.

8 Years, 8 Lessons: What Every Entrepreneur Should Know (According to Me)

In September 2010, I started Lynchpin Ideas. My hope: do what I love, and don’t go broke. I had a business plan, but … it was not a good one. Let’s just say the first six months proved to be a failure — and lesson in humility. So I promptly hit “reset” and got busy networking, and quickly had an “aha” moment thanks to insight from someone unexpected. I changed my plan and got to work. Fast forward eight years, and we’re still growing strong. What lessons have I learned along the way? So many. But as this is a digital forum, and brevity is Queen, here are eight that might help you on your own journey into entrepreneurdom.

Set your intentions. Intentions are powerful things. When you define them, and tell even one person (for me, it was a close friend), they quickly become real. Mine were big picture, like working directly with “deciders,” doing work that would make a difference, and doing work that I love.

Define a business plan. Mine was vague, but clear enough that it enabled me to define the type of work I wanted to do, and for whom I wanted to do it.

Work your network. Your network is your ticket to referrals — the very best sources of new business. Have lunch. Do drinks. Often. Get your elevator speech down. You’ll need it.

Lean on your mentors. My mentors have been, and remain, my lifeline. I could not have launched or sustained my company (or my work/life balance) without them. I rely on them for advice about hiring, office space, business stuff in general, clients, haircuts, and more.

Be open to offering new services. Your clients are your lifeblood, so if they want you to provide something slightly outside your wheelhouse but well within something you are able to do, consider it. Could you do it well? Is it something you can market to another client down the road?

Be grateful, but selective. Tell your clients how much you appreciate them. Lift their burden when you can. But don’t forget there is only so much of you, or your team, to go around. It’s easy for large companies to scale up but harder fiscally for a small firm to do the same. So serve carefully, and only accept new projects or clients that align with what you do best.

Embrace growth when you’re ready. Growth is wonderful. And really, really scary. When you find yourself at the crossroads of Growth and Fear, head for growth. Proceed with confidence (you’re here for a reason, right?) and caution (do your forecasting, know your numbers, hire someone smarter than you) so you don’t lose sleep at night. OK, you’ll lose sleep for a while, but this too shall pass. Trust me.


Should I change my logo?

We know how it is: you’ve had the same logo for the last five years. It works. There’s nothing wrong with it. But, like your favorite t-shirt, you’re a little “over it” and find yourself asking: Is it time for a change?

Like your shirt, it may be time for an update if:

  • it no longer fits (your mission)
  • no longer showcases your best assets
  • or hopelessly out of date-trendy (“I’m With Stupid,” anyone?)

If you read those bullets and said, yep, that sounds just like my company or City or program or product’s logo…then yes, it may be time for a change. Or at least a refresh. That might mean a new color update, because everyone is tired of blue and maroon is very 80’s. Or it may mean an updated font that works on your big sign or your small app icon (you thought about that, right?). Maybe it’s just time for a refresh because leadership changed, the mission has been refined, or something substantial shifted and you need to start a positive conversation about it.

A new or refreshed logo can do all of those things.

But what if you did NOT nod your head to any of those three bullets? Well then, don’t throw out the logo because you’re personally tired of it. Doing so always indicates that something has changed. And if it hasn’t, you’re sparking an unnecessary conversation. So if the T-shirt, e.g. logo still fits, reflects your mission well and wasn’t influenced by some long-gone design trend, then stick with it.

So while you may be over your logo, unless it’s just “wrong” for the reasons outlined here, chances are it should stick around, just like your favorite T. Otherwise, your clients may get confused … and become “over you” instead. Eeesh.

5 Bits of Wisdom for Young Creatives

What do I wish I knew when I started in my career that I do now? Plenty. But here are 5 things that might help you sidestep a bit of stress:

People who have no writing talent not only think they can write, they think they can do it better than you. Thanks,

People who have no design abilities will think they know how to make what you’ve created a little better.

Account people that think hard about strategy and give you what you need to creatively solve the client’s problem are few and far between. When you meet one, stay in touch. For life.

Your job is to seek out everything you need (e.g., strategy, background) so you can do the job. If the account person doesn’t give it to you, go find it yourself.

You’ll never be 100% satisfied with your work. If you are, you’re a narcissist and should transfer to PR. Kidding.

What is “Enough?”

The word “enough,” it’s been said, holds a different meaning for everyone. Enough food to eat. Enough money to pay your bills. Enough coats for the kids when it turns cold.

“Enough” applies to business too — and everyone has their own idea of what it is. Enough new business in the hopper. Enough referrals coming in. Enough attention. Enough attraction.

That got me to thinking about acquiring new clients. How many constitutes “enough?” Is it a magical number to attain a financial goal? To get it, would you keep a client whom you couldn’t serve well, and vise versa, just to keep them? Or would you let them go, trust the flow and open yourself up to more business from your best clients?

The way I look at it, tempting as it is to say “yes,” when business knocks at your door, if you free the clients you know in your heart are not the best fit, they’ll find their way to a company who is. And that in turn will open you up to getting more from your best clients, or perhaps to discovering a new “best” client. It may even free you up to help a nonprofit, or take a seat on the board of some organization that matters to you.

Either way, it opens the door to something more. A new “best.” And that’s enough for me.

The Conglomerization of Creativity (and Why it Scares Me).

I live in Kansas City, and we boast a wonderful marquee destination called The Country Club Plaza. It’s said to be the nation’s first outdoor shopping area, and so beautiful that it’s a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Thousands come to see it decked in festive lights at Christmastime, while in warmer months, its restaurants are brimming with diners and sidewalks jammed with shoppers. Sounds appealing, doesn’t it?

Well, yes. And no. To those of us who remember the Plaza as it used to be — before it was “conglomerized,” it’s lost some edge. Prior to that, our beloved Plaza was home to mostly local and regional shops, scores of incredible independent restaurants, and a prestige department store or two. But a sale by family ownership to an out of town management group took care of that. Today, it’s pretty much like Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, or even more sad, New York’s once Bohemian SoHo. Like these, our Plaza has become one of those generic “destinations.”

This formulated experience has been researched and relaunched to appeal to as many folks as possible. Young, old, hip, not, gay, straight, hey, there’s something for you. Now, no matter what city you visit, you can have pretty much the same shopping and dining experience in one city as another. Want to buy a piece of clothing that isn’t sold in 100 other shops across the country? Want to sample daily repast from a local restaurant? Happy hunting. Welcome to BlandLandia.

The same kind of conglomerization is happening in America’s advertising arena. What was once a creative sandbox of an industry where bright thinkers, imaginative creatives and aggressive sales people ruled has become the playground of the highest bidder.

Why should you care? Because conglomerization just may spell Blandlandia for your Brand. One thing that could happen once all the independents have been gobbled up by a few big firms is that all the originality that made them appealing in the first place could get lost in the chewing. Will the similar processes, similar philosophies and similar approaches yield similar solutions? One approach fits all?

Sounds about as appealing as dinner from a chain restaurant while wearing the same skinny jeans as everyone else. Me, I vote for the originals, the independents, the pioneers who dare to think for themselves and offer up fresh solutions, tailor made for each individual client.

Your brand deserves it. As does your stomach. And your backside.