Each time I walk the Hātea Loop in Whangārei, I notice something new and feel a little prouder to call the city home. If you haven't visited recently, I highly recommend it.
The Town Basin is becoming a beautiful place to walk, dine and unwind. I believe this is the result of imagination, good planning and high standards. If these three factors can influence my perception of a city, imagine what they can do for the image of an organisation, business or individual?
Our imaginations enable us to be different, and to stand out. There is a certain art centre on Dent St that is especially different and certainly stands out.
Planning brings the ideas from our imaginations to the real world, where they can be given purpose and produce results. I think that the imagination and planning that is going into the Town Basin will produce outstanding value for Whangārei and Te Tai Tokerau.
Value is a word we are seeing more and more of. A recent presentation by Callaghan Innovation during TechWeek suggested value is trending, and businesses should be competing on value, not price.
The interesting thing about value is that it is perceived, it doesn't really exist in any fixed form. This is great for businesses and organisations as it means they can make subtle changes to influence the way customers see them, and increase their value.
I began my career at Mainfreight Transport. When founder and chairman Bruce Plested visited the depot everything had to be immaculate.
Our branch was caught out on one occasion for excessive dust on a rubbish bin lid. This might seem ridiculous, but I look at the company's performance and suspect that such attention to detail is a key part of it. And it's not just about attention to detail, it's about having pride in your image.
Your image largely defines how others perceive you and will influence how they expect you to behave. In fact, your own image influences how you feel and behave as well. An organisation is no different.
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A business that looks after its assets and team is more likely to look after its customers. A city that invests in high-quality, interesting spaces is more likely to attract high-quality, interesting visitors and residents.
Image is an easy way to increase value.
The first step to improving image is to start caring about it, and more importantly, for the whole team to start caring about it. Keeping a workplace clean and tidy is a simple way to start the journey.
We are motivated by our environment, so set the scene and we naturally take more care of ourselves and our work.
Having a bit of care for our image and what it says about us as individuals, organisations and communities can make a world of difference. Surrounding ourselves with a respectable environment means we treat ourselves with more respect.
If we adopt a "good enough is not good enough" attitude, we set a high bar and find ways to deliver more value. I believe Northland's image as a region is on the up, so I challenge all to clean their rubbish bins and lift their own images with it.
• Sam Mather is a growth adviser at Northland Inc, the regional economic development agency for Te Tai Tokerau.