As far back as when cellular phones didn’t exist and three-way calling on landlines was the latest new and exciting technology, I’ve loved connecting people. It has been a recurring theme and thread that has been weaved throughout my personal and professional life. It rose back to the surface once again when I decided to dedicate this year to spending more time working on my business instead of the usual majority focus that I’ve spent working in my business.
In January I was accepted into the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program. We were charged with creating a 5-Year Growth Plan for our companies centered around a growth opportunity that would help us to grow and scale our businesses. My growth opportunity was to create a professional development app for leaders.
To hold myself accountable to my commitment to the goals in my plan, I started another program called Start Studio Discovery just weeks before my April graduation from the Goldman Sachs cohort. The objective was to conduct a minimum of 100 customer discovery interviews to make sure that our product was something that our customers would want to invest in because it was solving a real problem. This process prompted my pivot because I learned that leaders didn’t want or need a professional development app, they needed an authentic community of like-minded peers.
After the successful completion of that adventure, I joined the next level of that program called Start Studio MVP (Minimum Viable Product) the following month. I was paired with a professional developer, and we have been working on building out this new app ever since. It’s called “Connected”. It is an exclusive membership community where leaders of small businesses, nonprofit organizations, government entities, corporations, and beyond can share resources, vent, ask and answer questions, and problem-solve together.
It will provide opportunities to explore the same structures that have contributed to my success when it comes to my leadership, business, and personal growth journey. Here are a few of the strategies within those structures that will support you in cultivating connected conversations.
Access Accountability. I’ve heard and experienced first-hand the potential loneliness of leadership. People come to you for guidance and direction, but who do you turn to? This inspired me to create a feature in my app where you can find that designated person to connect with to share wins, explore ideas, and navigate challenges together.
Catch Your Crowd. My partner often shares a story about how he was given this advice as a young man. The idea behind it is that we must be intentional about curating a peer group who is moving in the direction that we desire, otherwise we might find ourselves in challenging or problematic situations. Connecting with other people who share the same or similar identities, responsibilities, and roles has been instrumental in my personal and professional growth. To make space for this in the app, I’ve created an affinity group feature that will allow leaders to go and find the support and community care of their people.
Choose Your Adventure. I’ve often received infinite rewards in connecting with the people I’ve met as a participant in programs, workshops, events, and retreats. In the spirit of this powerful community connection, I’ve set up virtual and in-person meetups around timely topics for leaders to attend. I also share information about high quality programs, events, and retreats that I’ve researched and vetted. These gatherings provide a space where leaders can share and strategize in a safe and trusted environment. They can be vulnerable in an intentionally curated community of their peers supported by professional facilitators, executive coaches, and consultants.
This week I challenge you to intentionally curate your connected conversations. Identify the individuals that you can connect with for mutual accountability. Find or start the groups of people who understand you for an exchange of reciprocal value. Enter and engage in spaces that inspire you and elevate your growth.
I am accessing accountability with individuals who inspire me.
I am connecting to my curated community of care and support.
I am spending time in spaces that feed my soul.