It started, as so many good things do, with talking with a good friend over a boozy brunch.
I met with Amanda Hirsch to talk about our 2015 goals, both in life and in business, and how we could support each other in achieving them. Since I’d recently read and blogged about Vic Strecher’s graphic novel, “On Purpose,” I was focused on living my life in sync with my highest values more than on simply drumming up more sales. I want to make the world a better place and bring people joy, not just cash a paycheck.
Because I’d recently returned from South by Southwest Interactive, I went on a bit of a tangent describing a breakfast I pulled together that made me so happy I actually cried tears of joy afterward.
I’ve gone to SXSW several times, but this year I didn’t buy a badge. I went to Austin strictly to network with the abundance of smart people in town for a conference that’s expanded from its tech roots to be a multi-disciplinary thinkfest. Without conference sessions to structure my day, I put much more advance prep into how I would spend my time.
I reviewed the extensive list of impressive speakers looking for people I should meet, and found so many people whose bios or talk descriptions made me wish I could attend. That triggered a plan B, hopping onto OpenTable to reserve a table for breakfast, then starting to invite strangers to join me.
We ended up with six people sharing a long, leisurely breakfast that so exceeded my expectations. Everyone was more inspiring, warm and open than I could have dared to hope. At the end, everyone hugged, exchanged cards and got a group photo. Our little morning gathering included:
- Jillian Lauren, who was a college dropout, a drug addict and a concubine in the Prince of Brunei’s harem before she and her husband, the bassist for Weezer, adopted an Ethiopian child with special needs. Her latest book is “Everything You Ever Wanted.”
- Amanda Enayati, an author and columnist who writes about happiness, creativity, technology, and identity for numerous outlets. She has a new book, “Seeking Serenity,” out this year.
- Annabelle Gurwitch, an actress, activist and author whose most recent book is “I See You Made An Effort: compliments, indignities and survival stories from the edge of 50.” Her book, “You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up,” is now a theatrical play in its third national tour.
- Jim Hodson, who is launching IQzic, a music discovery website. His LinkedIn summary says it well, “…. from machine shops to flight & tank simulators, from Europe, to India, from simple mechanical design to complex systems engineering, from IT to Finance, from Operations to HR & Legal, from Sole Proprietor to State Government to Fortune 500, to Partnerships of 2 to 3000, to Entertainment… what a wonderful journey it has been. It sounds like it is all over the board, but in 31 years, the path actually makes sense.”
- and Strecher, a professor at the University of Michigan, who the graphic novel, “On Purpose,” about what gives life meaning after losing his own purpose when his 19-year-old daughter died.
Amanda listened to me excitedly describe this table of strangers spending the morning together, and how much it made my heart soar when I got follow up messages from several people that our breakfast was the highlight of SXSW for them — then she finally interrupted.
I wasn’t taking notes, but in my memory her voice sounds something like, “Don’t you see that hosting events like that IS your purpose?”
She pointed to the frequent events I plan, from living room concerts to spaghetti dinners, and said those gatherings are making people’s lives better. I am bringing people joy by giving them experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have and connecting them with other interesting people.
It’s no secret I enjoy party planning. A former boss once called me The Organatrix. But I’d always thought of hostessing as an extracurricular, not as core to my purpose in life.
Amanda helped me reflect on how what I’m doing in my social life is central to my values of making the world better and giving people joy — and it led naturally into our conversation about co-hosting an all-day marketing workshop.
Hosting this workshop combines multiple things I love, including helping small business people succeed and supporting creative women in their pursuits. It’s also a chance to put my love of hostessing to work.
If you want to join me and Amanda as I put my heart into hosting creative women of Brooklyn: http://creativewomenofbrooklyn