Yesterday my friend Chris Brogan asked if he could write a guest post about what he’s learned growing his own business. I had already planned today’s post but was struck by the harmony of these two. If anything about this post resonates I invite you to read them both.
This past week I was treated to the exceptional gift of contrast.
Those that experience harsh winters are always more joyful about the spring than those that mostly live in warm climates around the year.
Without contrast it’s easy to grow complacent, or worse unsympathetic, while buried in a nice comfy groove.
On Monday I spoke to hundreds of amped up social media types at a conference in San Diego, right down on the yachted waterfront. The bright and shiny twenty something crowd enthusiastically hung on most every word uttered as gospel by semi-quasi famous speaker after speaker.
The event was inspiring, I had a great time, but in some ways it possessed an energy that verged on naïvety.
You see, social media is still the new kid, although it’s showing teen tendencies. The new kid is confident, verging on cocky, but the new kid is definitely in fashion.
Less than twenty-four hours later I found myself in front of about a hundred small business owners of the main street variety in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The contrast could not have been sharper. Social media exists in Cedar Rapids, but a lot like a fence post or a handy shovel. It’s a tool, but you don’t exactly gush about it around the dinner table.
No, this group still gets a great deal from the local newspaper and the print shop. This group networks in person and relies on each other for referrals.
It’s worth noting that Cedar Rapids was also home of one of the worst natural disasters in the past century. Surprised? I mean you heard about Katrina and Sandy, but Cedar Rapids?
In the summer of 2008 the entire Upper Mississippi River Basin flooded and inundated ten square miles of Cedar Rapids, including the entire downtown of this community of about 100,000.
You didn’t hear much about this event. You also didn’t hear much about how they recovered. Neighbors helped neighbors, businesses adopted businesses, they said grace and they mucked out.
It’s kind of a Midwestern thing, just roll up your sleeves and get back to doing. It’s also kind of a true small business thing.
So here’s the point I’m trying to make.
We all need each other.
We need social media’s enthusiastic curiosity and rush to embrace all things seemingly new. And, we need sturdy things that we can lean on when we’re unsure.
We need to help each other learn and grow and fall down and get up again.
We need doubt in order to experience faith.
We need despair in order to experience hope.
We need old in order to appreciate young.
And we need winter if we are to revel in spring.
We need hugs and handshakes as much as tweets and follows.
We need to feel and smell tangible if we are to summon the senses.
We need to attend
We need to craft
We need to muck
And mostly we each need each other in order to find some sort of rational center in it all.