Now that Debra’s and my gluten program is well under way – and many thanks to those of you who signed up; we are so excited to have this opportunity to provide you with the most useful tools available for navigating the maze of a gluten-free lifestyle – I’m taking a break to talk about something else.
One of my favorite subjects, actually….
Networking and accountability!!
These two components – which kind of go hand-in-hand, I think (at least for me!) – have been the absolute game-changers in how I look at starting and running a business in the online health and wellness space.
It was an absolute thrill for me to spend some time in beautiful Los Angeles, California, recently.
(Especially since the event I attended was in a hotel near the airport, with shuttle service to and fro – i.e., no driving!! Although Uber was very helpful for a trip to a nearby Whole Foods the afternoon before our trip home – had to pick up some more travel stash for our non-stop flight….)
Compared to two years ago – when I attended ITN Live! as a brand-spankin’-new student – this time it was first-class all the way. (At the event, not on the airplanes. Still flying coach for the time being.)
Not only did I sign up as an “Early Bird” and a VIP, but I’m also on the Student Advisory Board of the Institute for Transformational Nutrition.
I had one of the best (front-row) seats in the house, where I got to spend time with some of the dear friends and colleagues I’ve made in the online forum.
I’m in a mini-Mastermind group with one of them. (Andrea Caprio)
I’ve done a podcast interview with another. (Trent Childers)
This was my first time meeting some of these folks – and it felt like I was hanging out with old friends.
And yes, I even got my booty on the dance floor at Saturday night’s Gala dinner….
We even had the opportunity to choose an “accountability buddy” or two – and make commitments to each other.
My little trio – Andrea Caprio, Maria Mizzi and myself – committed to one action to take before the end of the month.
The amazing thing is that each of us has already either met our goals, or is well along the way….
(Of course, I had another incentive – I had already made my commitment to Cynthia Pasquella herself! So I had to step up!!)
I couldn’t disappoint my Khaleesi, after all….
(Yes, apparently there are quite a few fans of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series in the ITN community. I will never be able to look at – or read about – Theon Greyjoy in the same way again….)
Seriously, though, I got to reconnect with a few people I met a couple of years ago, and make many, many new friends.
Although so many of them felt like family, after so many months of online interaction.
Someone once asked me why I go to live events – traveling can be difficult and time-consuming sometimes, especially when you have dietary restrictions – when “you can learn everything you need online these days.”
Well, yes … maybe … really?
I don’t think so.
You can learn a lot online – I’ve taken (or am currently taking) a wide variety of courses, all of which offer great value for the money.
But no matter how amazing the material, or how active the online forum, nothing comes close to making those one-on-one, face-to-face connections.
Skype and Zoom are great – I wouldn’t trade either of them for anything – but getting to give Bernadine Otto (creator of the amazing online magazine “Live, Love and Eat” – to which I’ve been a regular contributor since the very first issue!) a long-lost sister (think “The Color Purple”), death-grip hug during early registration … that’s just not something you can recreate online!!
And making a commitment to someone, while you’re looking them in the eye … that’s not a promise that’s easy to back out of, is it?
These are your friends, your peers, your colleagues – you want to support them, and you don’t want to let them down.
Another thing about live events is that you often connect with people in unexpected ways – chatting at a networking breakfast, lunch or dinner and finding a way to work together than hadn’t occurred to you before.
During one of our VIP “networking” lunches, one of my neighbors mentioned a subject about which I know nothing – but it sounded fascinating … so I asked her if she’d consider writing a guest blog article about it for our website.
All of these ways of interacting – whether planned or spontaneous – can lead to connections that help all of us in the end.
We learn how to collaborate, instead of compete.
And all of us have different skills to bring to the table. Sure, I’ve got writing and editing experience from my “Diana Bastine” days, but I’m not at all tech-savvy.
Debra and I had already reached out to our friends and colleagues for bonus interviews, recipes, etc. for our gluten program.
I can’t tell you how valuable and treasured these connections are to me – I intend to step up and support them in the same way they’ve come through for us.
Because I know these people – I’ve met many of them … at live events.
And no, that’s not something you’re going to get online. You can connect, and I won’t disparage the importance of nurturing those “virtual” friendships, but there is a whole different level of energy at live events.
We celebrate our successes, we support each other during the hard times – we’re just literally “there” for one another.
And where else can you “geek-bond” over “Game of Thrones” outside of fantasy and science-fiction conventions??? I mean, c’mon … work with me here….
Maybe I’ll see you at the next event … and share the “Neon Blacklight” in-joke. For now, I guess you, um, “just had to be there.”
(All photos courtesy Noam Nizzani Photography)