Yesterday we had a PromoKitchen Executive Committee call. Once a month the few of us that were elected to govern the all volunteer organzation that is PromoKitchen, jump on a call to discuss where we think PromoKitchen is, where it is headed, and in what direction we feel we should move going forward.
Some days these calls are lighter hearted and we are on and off the call quickly after running through the few items that line our agenda. Other days, like this particular day, we confront topics that require deeper thought and are often times met with differing opinon. The personalities within PromoKitchen represent thought leaders who are nothing if not bold in vision, both for PK and the industry at large. We are passionate, caring individuals who believe in the power of collaboration and the endless possibility and potential that education and mentorship have to influence the whole, now and for generations to come. Occasionally, however, we each have different ideas about what fostering these programs looks like and the role PromoKitchen will play from day-to-day.
On this particular day, after an hour of roundtable discussion in which each one of these very opinionated, very wise and very powerful people had the opportunity to state their thoughts, we tied things up and ended the call. I hung up the phone and just sat for a minute.
I've been part of a number of volunteer organizations and have watched with my head in my hands as group after group of type A personalities bickered themselves into a frenzy. Time was wasted, feelings were hurt, almost nothing was accomplished, and ultimately, once strong professional relationships were damaged beyond repair.
PromoKitchen, however, is different.
After I sat for that minute I sent this email to the executive committee:
"A few words if I may...
I just want to thank you, the wise group of professionals that I am somehow blessed to call both friends and mentors, for allowing me the opportunity to grow. To be a part of the dynamic that is PromoKitchen has been the opportunity of a lifetime. This collective continually allows me, a punky opinionated youngster, to boldly speak my mind with authority, try new things and fail, run and fall, and learn to stand back up and keep moving forward. I would be remiss if I didn't also dole out gratitude for the way we also occasionally and yet tactfully and respectfully hand it back to each other when opinons differ, rather than pacify each other and kick sand over tough issues. Every minute is a learning opportunity.
If ever there was a testimonial to the effectiveness of the PK mentorship program, I would personally say that the last six years of my life would be just that. I don't have one mentor, I have all of PK. If we are paying attention, we all do. Throughout these years I have learned new leadership skills, overcome fears, developed a certain boldness, learned to recognize and manage my own personal limitations, and have become able to fearlessly advocate for my values and beliefs. Moving forward I now have a new set of things I want to master and am working really hard to learn to balance power, manage teams, learn how to effectively communicate bold opinions with more tact, and as always, continue the pursuit of deeper humility. There are so few organzations that foster this kind of learning. It's so damn cool to be a part of one that does.
I definitely don't want to get all sunshine and butterflies on you, but when we hung up the call today I just felt like I wanted you all to know how much each one of you teaches me and just how grateful I am for the lessons. I can only hope that everyone involved with PK, and in whatever capacity they are involved, feels the same.
Truly... thank you."
Never in my life have I ever been surrounded by a group of people that, in addition to being on a mission to find success for the benefit of themselves and their families, are also selfless in the pursuit of helping other people find success for them and theirs. Each of these people are so incredibly diplomatic in the way they go about moving initiatives forward and expressing their thoughts so repectfully and tactfully. This is year seven. There have been countless phone calls, years of planning meetings, various events, shifts in technologies, some changing of the guard, and plenty of times I personally have screwed something up or lacked the skills needed to do something the way it needed to be done. Yet through it all, the dissonance and conflict has been ridiculously minimal. This kind of leadership changes everything about the game and we get so much further as a collective because it's never "what's in it for me" but instead, how can the group and the community, and the industry benefit from what we are doing. Now we have sous chefs coming on board to help as well? This group of do-ers is jumping in full force to help build out programs and move initiatives forward at an exponential pace. And for what? For no other reason but to help others learn, grow, and succeed. That is So. Ridiculously. Cool.
How in the world I got so lucky to be a part of it all and be put in a position to learn from these individuals I'll never know. What I do know is I'm unbelievably grateful to be here, and glad each of you reading this are here to share your knowledge with us too.