President Obama pauses as he speaks during an reception for the U.S. Conference of Mayors in the East Room of the White House. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Obama spoke to a group of about 250 mayors from across the country at the White House Thursday, lauding them for getting things done rather than waiting for the Washington to act.

"Every day, mayors are proving that they don't have to wait for the gridlock to clear in Washington to make things happen," he said.

He singled out a handful of mayors, including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter for creating summer jobs and Julian Castro of San Antonio for his child education initiatives.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors was in Washington for their annual meeting -- this year's group represents about 40 million Americans from 45 states.

Obama also emphasized that he would take a bolder approach to getting things done going forward.

"I want to work with Congress when and wherever I can, but one thing I'm emphasizing to all of my Cabinet members is that we're not going to wait," he said. "I've got a pen and a phone and that's all I need."

But perhaps the most important line of the speech was a bit of advice to the mayors, who were in town during the past week, when temperatures dropped to single digits.

"Make sure you shovel the snow," he said.