Connectivity is what we want. Community is what we need.
I didn’t have an easy start in life and in hindsight, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It taught me so much about resilience, perception and ultimately, what I was capable of. From heading up Commercial Development in the entrepreneurial buzz of the Dragons’ Den to CEO of the beautifully creative studios of Anouska Hempel; I relentlessly worked my way up to being a trusted advisor to a high profile client list before I had my first ‘what the heck am I doing with my life?’ moment. In January this year, I was at a crossroads disguised as a dead-end; I mean who does the Advisor turn to for advice? Certainly not her client list!
I’d been so busy working that I’d forgotten the importance of having a solid support system and I already knew all too well that a lack of like-minded people in your life can have a disastrous domino effect so I put my high-profile career on hold and immediately went to work on my latest project: Building my tribe. My first stop was Escape the City where I joined 49 other inspirational individuals with a shared goal of building a startup. We spent 4 months creating, testing and launching our ideas into the public domain, turning to each other to celebrate the highs and picking each other up from the inevitable lows.
I’ve been 6’2 since I turned 14 years old and although I’ve always projected complete confidence in my working life, I was always dealing with social anxiety behind the scenes. I struggled to find clothes, towered over my group of friends and worked in male dominated environment so I didn’t even know any other tall women who really understood where I was coming from. There didn’t seem to be anything which ticked the right boxes for me so I set about creating an online community for tall women in the hope that they would show up… and they didn’t let me down!
It’s been just over 6 months since I created a Tall Guides twitter account, today the combined TALL GUIDES social media following sits at just under 10k. A (terrible!) holding page has turned into a dynamic online magazine and the private Facebook group has evolved to include offline events in London, Germany & the Netherlands. I’m proud to have created a place where we can connect, create and celebrate our difference. This random journey has had a positive impact not only my life but also on the lives of many other women and from not knowing any other tall women; we now know thousands of them all around the world!
A niche community like this wouldn’t have been possible pre-internet and social media, I would have always been THE tall girl in my own circles and I feel extremely grateful that we’re now living in a super connected world. It’s something we all need in our lives, whether we’re referring to brands, businesses, startups or individuals, communities which make our lives better should exist everywhere – both on and offline. The biggest brands don’t sell to their customers, they don’t broadcast at people, they grow a tribe – engaging people in something interesting, entertaining or useful for them.
We’ve seen a rise in socially connected products, the emergence of platform-based companies and the message we’re sending is clear – connectivity is what we want, community is what we need. Whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re working, whenever you’re thinking of doing something different; take a moment to look at the support system around you as I believe that the people around us can be the difference between success and failure. If you don’t like what you see or you can’t find what you need, my advice is to create it and they will come.
The best opportunities come via people so proactively seeking out communities and people with similar interests and values to you is a must. The most successful (and enjoyable) way of building authentic relationships is to contribute generously to others. When you do this, you’ll often receive exciting opportunities in return.
So what community is it that you’re looking to attract? Whatever you decide, stand for something and then build your tribe around it.
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