There is massive power in community (duh) - Kathleen Celmins

There is massive power in community (duh)

As I type this, I’m sitting in a gorgeous home in Jewett, New York (about 100 miles from the city in the Catskills). I’m one of 17 women who are here, talking business.

I didn’t know there would be much of an agenda. I think there wasn’t, at first.

“Let’s get together and see where conversations go,” was the general idea.

But then it got more specific.

We’re doing hot seats, where one of us gets up in front of the group and talks about her business and what she’d like to get feedback on. We’re not supposed to talk once we’ve asked for help.

Yesterday was the first day, and I was in the hot seat.

I knew it would be hard to sit quietly while the rest of the group discussed my business, so I brought my notebook.

I took pages and pages of notes.

See, I haven’t been at this long, and I’m getting more and more confident about how my new company is going to position itself in the marketplace.

So I was a little worried about whether what I’m offering would resonate at all with the women in the room.

It did.

I got so much out of the feedback and pricing suggestions from the group, which really lifted me up.

Honestly, though, I love talking to others about their businesses.

The format is fluid, but generally falls into intro–>what’s working–>where are the obstacles–>what would you like from this group.

We’re all in a similar space (or we all were — this is a subset of women who at one point wrote personal finance blogs and have had excellent conversations in the hallways or late nights at another conference, FinCon).

We’re all doing similar things. Well, more similar than a random group of entrepreneurs, I suppose. There’s a lot of overlap.

And the community is strong.

The conversations are almost entirely business-related, but we get personal after the structured sessions are over.

These are my friends. My colleagues.

And this event, as loosely structured as it is, is our water cooler.

The thing that I miss most about working for myself is the lack of community that exists when you have a break room or an office kitchen… or heck, an office layout at all.

When your closest colleagues live on the internet, it can get pretty lonely.

And many of these people are in my phone already (those who aren’t now, will be soon). So I know I could send a quick text/email/gchat whatever to bounce an idea off them, but I don’t.

I’ll assume they’re too busy and miss an opportunity to connect.

Which, really, is a shame.

But here, where the wifi is strong and the snacks are plentiful, there’s a real sense of “we’re in this together.” I got nervous talking about my business because there are two other women (LaTisha and Claudia) here who are working in a similar space, and I was worried they’d think I was trying to encroach on what they’re building.

But no. Not in this community.

I know there’s space for each of us to make a lot of money in our businesses. And we’re here to help each other do that.

This week is energizing and recharging, and intense.

I’m surrounded by TV personalities. Authors of books. Experts who are making a difference.

I’m extra grateful to be included in this group, and happy that Emma and Stefanie put it together.

Pictures to come.

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