Find Your Tribe
Several years before NBC’s sitcom Friends first aired, I had the great good fortune to work at an IBM internship in Tarrytown, New York, the small village on the east side of the Tappen Zee Bridge, which spans the Hudson River just north of New York City. And just like Friends, it came at a time in my life when your friends are your family – that period between when you leave home, and settle down in your own home to start your own family. It’s a time in life when freedom and independence seem so exhilarating and the doors of possibility open to anything.
What made these internships work so beautifully was that the kids working for Big Blue all were good students, adventurous, and interested in business. When you find your “tribe”, magic things can happen. I wrote all about this experience in my book, “The Adventure Consultant” (www.theadventureconsultant.com), but is suffices to say, it was an amazing experience.
My first roommate in New York back in 1991 was a curly-headed guy from LSU, who had been a walk one wide receiver there for a brief time and was a great guy to know. It was complete random chance that we got assigned to the same department and the same boss.
Well, after a glorious 6 months in New York, we all returned home, or in my case, to summer school at Clemson, and back to our normal school lives. But the bonds formed in New York among this group of “Friends” were strong, and we vowed to get together again. Ultimately, it was decided that since my LSU roommate was from New Orleans, that we should all get together the following February for Mardi Gras in the Big Easy.
Our internship program at Clemson was called the cooperative education program, and it required not one, but two internships in order to complete the program. Having had such a wonderful experience, I went right back to Tarrytown and IBM and had essentially the same experience all over again. But I did take some time off to see the prior years’ friends. I left work on a Friday, drove through snow in the Pocono Mountains to Penn State, where I met up with two carloads of friends and we drove through the night to New Orleans, arriving Saturday around noon, just in time for some of the biggest and best parades and a weekend of pure joy. Some of us in that group vowed to return the next year, and we started a tradition that lasted for over a decade, before marriages, careers, and families pulled us in other directions. And for me, it started a lifelong love affair with the City of New Orleans, where I have spent over a year of my life, have invested in property, and have visited countless times since. It never gets old. Once the Mardi Gras Mambo gets in your blood, it never leaves.
So what’s this have to do with running a business, you might ask? Fair question. The moral of this story is to go out there and find your tribe. As entrepreneurs, this isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but technology has made it a million times easier. I remember making mixed tapes of the music we all sang and danced to in that magical time in 1991 and mailing them to those friends as holiday gifts at the end of that year. Most of those songs still take me back to that time.
Entrepreneurs are said to be some of the loneliest people around. Local friends and family generally just don’t understand what we go through, and that’s OK. Your tribe will. If and when you find them. Make the effort. Attend conferences, join masterminds, go to MeetUps. (or check out our latest venture, Neur Tours!) Socializing doesn’t come easy to everyone. I tend to be more introvert than extrovert, so I sometimes have to exert extra effort to make it happen. But when it does, the relationships, joint ventures, and ad-ventures, can be extraordinary!
Here’s to Tribe!