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Day 58.1 - Community

Today was a good day. When I started out on this journey I said I would endeavor to meet 100 people in 100 days, but I never said I wouldn't meet more than that. As today lined up I was able to meet two wonderful people and have connections with both of them. There's a real blessing in being able to meet two people in a day, to learn from them and share with them what you do. This afternoon I was able to spend some time catching up with Mark Osborn in Mt Pleasant at a terrific little local coffee spot.

Mark and I are both frequenters of 1 Million Cups - Charleston. If that name is starting to sound familiar, it's because the community we have built there is incredible. I was involved in my previous job, so when I started this new project, word quickly spread and people turned out to help with introductions and offers to sit down with me. Mark has been there longer than I have actually, when the community was just a few guys sitting in a small room and he has watched it grow. In all of that time I have been going to 1MC, he and I have never really sat down and connected. We have said hello, we have even been really pleasant to each other, but until today we had never taken the time to get to know one another.

If that situation sounds familiar it is no surprise. I have talked about this situation involving me and my connections before, largely because we all do this. We see someone and say hello, exchange a few pleasantries and then move on about our day. It's very surface level and honestly something that turns people off to networking. It's not that it's fake, it just isn't very deep.

Not taking the time to get to know Mark would have been a great shame. He's a fantastic guy with an incredible history in sales and business. These days he spends his time helping business owners acquire funding for projects and lean times as they move into new endeavors. As he asks me about my current project, it is obvious he is trying to find ways he can help me. It doesn't take you long to realize this guy really is that friendly. He's a man who loves to help people, who holds deeply rooted values and applies those to his business. Mark has that same genuine interest I love to see in people. He's not just interested in my work, but also in me as a person.

When we talk about creating value, we rarely talk about making others feel valued. Those talks often center on what we can do for people and how we can enhance their business or their personal situation with the product or service we are offering. It can be complicated and difficult, ask anyone who has worked in sales. The irony is that making a person feel valued is very simple. You just need to genuinely be interested in them and pay attention to their story. Simple.

Mark is wonderfully curious as well. He tells me about his time at 1MC, learning about new businesses in tech, whether it was the product, service or a particular concept. When he heard something he didn't know, he wrote it down and made it a point to learn about it when he got home. He grew, he developed, he learned. Most importantly he didn't do it for business. That's not why he goes to the weekly gatherings. He goes for the community, to be a part of it and to contribute to it. Learning is the price paid to be able to bridge his expertise in ways that help the young entrepreneurs. What he loves most about the events though is getting to see the young entrepreneurs get up and bare their souls to the room, to see them put their dreams out there and to watch the community come together to support them.

I'm not surprised to hear this when he says it. During our entire conversation, Mark has asked about me and what I am doing with this project, what the next steps are and where I think I want to take it. He's genuinely curious and wants to help however he can. Mark is a community guy. He's the kind of person who anchors groups like 1MC, steady and eager to help.

We could all make our communities a little better if we were like Mark.

Favorite DInosaur: Brontosaurus

Why: He's a big Fred Flintstone fan.

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