Lessons from 3 years’ creative business building — Part 4: Community and calling
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Content is king, design is queen but community is the ace up your sleeve
I’d moved to Sydney in late 2013 . Having travelled a lot before, I was excited about the change — and I was moving for love.
Once the unpacking was done though, I realised I was used to making friends via the workplace. Colleagues are thin on the ground as a work-best-from-home solopreneur.
An online entrepreneur community I’d taken comfort from was The Freelance to Freedom Project, and later, One Woman Shop . My stalwart ‘free range’ friends from 2012 were still a salve and the Uncaged Life community had some kind participants too.
But despite my resistance, despite hollowing far further into my introversion than normal, I knew
I needed give-me-a-hug-in-person people
Through the exhaustion, it was time to reclaim my zest.
A resort at the foot of Oregon’s Mt Hood had been lifted from a fairytale.
It was manicured and rustic, man-made and wild. Fir, pine and cedar trees soared in swathes across the once-frontier country. Late afternoon sunshine honeyed the cool October air and I snatched a moment alone with the breath of the Earth.
The smell of grass and moist soil curled in my nostrils.
“Hey Sara, are you heading inside?”
Three days in the mountains with about 130 independent business owners piqued my excitement and adrenalin. Chris Guillebeau and his team worked their magic again — this was Pioneer Nation: an ‘instant’ entrepreneur community where workshop hosts, attendees and event volunteers mixed easily.
Everyone was generous of spirit. Stories of challenge, fear and hope accrued.
It was intoxicating.
Tara Gentile’s keynote about bold choices in business and letting go of the ‘coulds’ and ‘shoulds’, hit home. My eyes stung and throat clenched during her entreaty to each of us to find the one thing we were uniquely placed to do.
Two dinners with feisty, fun and generous people made me glow. By the bonfire on the final night, toasting smores, chatting life and love with Willo , and new projects with James , something began to shift.
kindly left me a gift at reception. Pamela and Willo’s generosity with their business insights on the way to the airport was the catalyst for an ‘a-ha’ moment…
In a corner pub, a couple of floors above Sydney’s George Street during evening rush hour, an animated group of 20- to 50-somethings was huddled in a small function room with an adjoining bar.
I wondered if the barman knew he was about to be asked again.
“Come and take our picture! Here’s my phone,” said one of the organisers.
Each month there’s a ‘normal’ smiling group photo then a silly one.
I like the silly ones best, though I’m never sure until the last instant how I’m going to pose.
No one cares if they look like an idiot. Everyone is kind.
An hour earlier, when my turn came to speak to everyone, I said something like this:
“I always encourage others to do their best work. I love helping people write and seeing their confidence soar when they create something special. I’m a cheerleader for them.”
I paused for breath, my stomach swirled. It was that instant between diving and hitting the water—
“Now I need a cheerleader. I’ve decided to write my book.”
“What do you want us to do?”
“I’d really love it if a few people could just check in with me each week — send me a text and ask how it’s going. So I don’t feel like I’m writing alone. So I know someone (besides me) cares,” I said.
Because I can’t do this alone anymore.
To everyone who’s made Sydney’s Live Your Legend (LYL) meetups what they are: thank you. To the late LYL founder, Scott Dinsmore, your legacy burns brightly — we all wish you could have seen it for (much) longer. To my current LYL ‘writing cheer squad’ of old friends and new — Claire , Jane , Naz , Sam , Mick, , Danielle, Jen and Troy — your messages have made me feel shiny again.
Text message exchange in Sydney, Australia:
Me : Hey, We are the Treasure Hunters turns 3 today! Thank you so much for your continued support for my personal, creative and business dreams. xo
Dave : Happy birthday Treasure Hunters!! Woohoo! We’ll have to have a celebratory dinner. We can talk about it when I get home tonight. x
For you too, for being here, as a reader or part of the crew — here’s my tribute to you .
[If you’re wondering who Dave is, he’s quite a big part of this story — check out Part 1 for the lowdown.]
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Image credit and thanks: Armosa Studios (taken at Pioneer Nation 2015).