At the time I was writing this at 12:30 a.m., I was basically hyperventilating into a brown paper bag. Why?…because an idea I had is getting off the ground thanks to a dedicated lot who gives a darn about others.
Navigating Change Media Think Tank which I founded last year, was front and center on Wednesday evening at an event in New York City. It was the back drop to a talk on social media and the guest of honor was Wine Library’s Gary Vaynerchuk arguably one of the country’s finest examples of where really, really hard work can get you. He’s a social media king. Facebook, Twitter, streaming video you name it.
In the fall of 2008 as the economy started to tank, I started to think about what could I do to start helping people in their sheer panic. As a newscaster I could see the train coming down the tracks. People were going to lose their jobs and those who had them were going to be doing a lot of hand wringing about how to keep the job they had. I felt this compelling pull to figure out how to be a part of the solution in some small way.
So because I had embraced social media on Facebook and Twitter I started to reach out to people most whom I didn’t even know to try and start a think tank. Initially I reached out to media types because certainly I felt a kinship there. Then I thought about TED. It stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. This group was started in the 1980’s by a marketing guru by the name of Harry Marks. I reached out to him too through Facebook and Harry responded from California.
I researched what Harry did in forming the very first small group that was TED, they were people of many different careers so I started reaching out way outside the boundaries of media and started writing to event planners, entrepreneurs, web site designers, actors, marketing types, architects and on and on. The thinking was bring all backgrounds into the circle to get many different perspectives about how to help others and ourselves…to push limits as jobs were going away.
Initially I called this group “Let’s Get This Party Started,” I thought that was a fun title ad might attract some folks. Our first meeting was held in May of 2009 at a member’s home where we all brought a dish to share and we began a conversation. One of the members even had a flat tire on her way in from New Jersey, but she came anyway. We started to form a bond on that day and we continue to hold meetings at people’s homes and always bring food to share. We’ve kept it simple and we have connected way beyond social media.
I likened this to what happened across the country after the Great Depression where folks would gather in a home, maybe there would be enough money for someone to bake an apple pie and that would be shared with coffee. They sat around a kitchen table and began to chat about how to get people back to work. They talked about bartering and sharing services to help each other get started and as they got back to work they would help others.
That is the mission of this group which is now called Navigating Change and that is thanks to another member of the group who happens to be an architect from Yale. We number about 40 give or take, and the instructions are simple. Leave any ego you have at the door and offer up ideas and help to others in the group and then spread that out to the masses.
The logo was designed by another member of the group, Brent Robertson of Fathom in Hartford.
This is far from reinventing the wheel mind you, but it’s putting a plan into action. I can’t stand it when people hurt.