5 for 5 blog – Starting something and making a difference

23 May

Photo May 16, 3 57 06 PM (1)

This past Wednesday was a “put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is” opportunity for me. I had a chance to present to a group of my peers and colleagues on the importance of design thinking and creativity. But as important as the presentation was, the reason to hold it at all was even more important.

A few months ago, a few friends and I was having lunch and discussing the latest books we were reading, what we were learning, and how that was influencing our careers. Gradually our idea turned towards an idea….an idea based on making a difference, not only amongst each other, but for a more broader groups of friends and co-workers.

We named the idea,  Open Forum. The concept being that we would create an opportunity to bring together our colleagues in an event that fosters networking and allows us to share what we are learning. But sharing not in a way of self-promotion, but rather offering up what we were learning so that others might grow too. We reasoned that if there were others like us, hungry to learn ideas and from one another, that people would be willing to come out and be part of such an event.

So, we said, “Why not us?”, “Why not now?”

So on Wednesday we had our first Open Forum, an introduction to collaborative learning and networking that we hoped would plant seeds of ideas that everyone could take back and apply in their jobs and even their lives. I wanted to share a few lessons I learned over the past few months:

Share “personally”

The emphasis of the event was not to tell the audience, you must adopt this methodology. It was much more personal to me and so ultimately, it was more about my journey. Fortunately, we had a great group of people with great questions and even in a few cases made the ideas even better with their experiences. When we make the ideas we are sharing personal, it connects with people hopefully in a much more authentic way.

The best way to learn is to teach

I was reminded of the simple truth that if you truly want to learn a subject, makes plans to teach it. If your approach to teaching is to help leave your audience a little better because of their time spent, it will challenge you to go deeper into the research before the talk. I learned so much more about design thinking and creativity as a result of planning for this talk than I did at the start. It is worth the time and effort to make your talk sharp, well thought out, with great references. (H/T IDEO, Stanford d. school, Roger Martin, and Tim Brown)

Find your  tribe

Speaking of a great audience, given that this was our first event as intimidating as it was for me to share my ideas and imposter syndrome was running rampant through my mind just head of the presentation, I took comfort that most of the people that were curious about attending were hopefully people like me – people hoping to learn; people hoping to be inspired. When you put yourself out there and share ideas remember, if people don’t like what you have to say, that’s ok. Like Seth Godin says, the message probably wasn’t meant for them. When you find your tribe, those like-minded people that share your values, the message will resonate and take off on its own.

Go with a great team

There is a saying that goes “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” I wouldn’t have gotten up and spoke on Wednesday without the support of my friends. In fact, more than that, I never would have even come close to pulling off the event. Without my friends being there before, during, and after the event it would never have been successful. I am deeply indebted to them all, and hope to return that support in our next events.

Oh by the way, we got some very good feedback. People appreciated the opportunity to meet with new people from around our building and form different functions. More than once, people asked us “Where have these events been all along?” To which we responded, “Thanks for the feedback…..we are just getting started. See you next time!”

Here are this week’s 5 for 5 articles:

The Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership, by Kent Keith – via Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers

The short run and the long run – via Seth Godin

Reading a speech is good — for insomnia – by J. Robert Parkinson

Living the dream: notes from the battlefield – by Tony Hawk

Unlock your Organization’s Creative Potential – by Tim Brown

All the best, kevin