Being part of the community has always been very important to me. Whether it's in my neighborhood (walking down the street and saying hello to familiar faces—they do exist in NYC!), the people who take my classes weekly, or the friends that I have kept in touch with since high school and even grade school—having that constant connection is important. I find in this day and (my increasing) age, it's more important than ever. I am human.
When we decided to expand the Protein Bakery into the UK market, Adele, our wonderful Sales Rep there, wisely suggested we become part of the Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce. Having never joined a small business community, I was hesitant. However, I did agree and how right she was! The Chamber in Brighton has supported the Protein Bakery and definitely helped spread the health in an exciting new international demographic. When I traveled across the pond, I attended a Chamber event where I met countless business owners and people from the area. It immediately made me feel both our bakery and I had found a real home, not just an address. Many of those contacts, I still keep in touch with today as colleagues and some have become my friends. So back in the US, when my Midwest Sales Rep Joseph Fowler urged me to join the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, I was much more open-minded. Once again, I am pleasantly surprised with the immediate connections I made. Through my communication with fellow business owners, I learned how vast discrimination can be simply because of who they are. That unfairness is the antithesis of who I am and made me more aware of my responsibility as a business owner beyond the confines of my own office. Becoming a member was no easy feat though. The NGLCC checks you out like you imagine the CIA might. Derrick Brown was the person who interviewed me and has been a great supporter of the Protein Bakery. He listened to my business model because he wanted to better understand how to help me grow my business in ways I'd never thought of. What a gift!
The help from people who don't know me, yet want to offer me guidance and friendship will never cease to amaze me. As I said, it makes me feel more connected and I need that.
I hope that this blog entry will motivate you to join some type of group. It doesn't matter if it's a small business association, a book club, or an activity in your community that connects you with other people, people who have faces and names and NOT just email addresses. No matter how fantastic social media can be, the Internet will never be able to offer true human connection. I feel it's up to us to make sure we keep that in our lives. There is nothing more important than looking into another person's eyes and feeling the natural energy between us all.
So please…if ever you're in NYC, make some time to visit our Sweet Spot. Let's meet!