There are many possible paths through life and career. Every so often, we’re presented with a decision: Take one path (maybe it’s a new job with an existing employer), or choose another route (maybe it’s an uncharted role at a new company with no clear business model or understanding where it is headed).
More than three years ago, I chose the second path — launching a talent-focused management consulting practice, creating #TChat as a TalentCulture community beacon, and embarking on a life at the crossroads of social media, knowledge sharing and collaboration. And what an incredibly interesting and rewarding journey it has been!
There have been too many high points to mention — the exhilaration of weekly Twitter chats; the roller-coaster dynamics involved with growing a professional online community; the great times Kevin W. Grossman and I have had connecting with many of you at live events — SHRM, HR Demo, Recruiting Trends, HRO Today, HR Tech, HR Evolution and so many others. It’s fun to push the technical limits with experimental “simulcast” chat/radio shows, and other new ways that connect our global community with the best minds and forums in the HR and social media realm.
Along the way, we’ve had the opportunity to meet hundreds of HR practitioners, business leaders and social influencers, both via #TChat and in person. I became a blogger – contributing to many niche blogging communities with whom I’ve been fortunate to forge strong social partnerships. These three years have opened my eyes and heart to new ideas and friendships that have enriched me more than I could have imagined.
Throughout this TalentCulture adventure, I’ve been guided by a vision of community, leadership, learning and innovation in HR. It’s the same today as it was the very first day — everyone is invited and everyone’s unique voice matters. Together, we’re exploring innovative topics – emotional intelligence; collaboration; evolving social and HR technology; the multi-generational workplace and the natural tensions that exist among Boomers, Gen X and Millennials; as well as the role that trust, influence and intent play in today’s most innovative organizations.
We had the courage to take this winding road, to live this social experiment, and we did it without a safety net of financial support. Like many bootstrapped ventures, we lived an online experiment, while sometimes risking our own security during past three years. We became, and are, the #1 and longest running Twitter Chat focused on “The World of Work” in the HR, Leadership, Innovation and Social Business niche. And I am proud of the way we navigated to that destination. This “organic” effort was the right approach. It gave us the freedom to stretch our limits, and really listen to our inner voices — even when others cautioned us that this endeavor was a huge time sink.
I’ve learned a lot during these past three years:
1) Patience. It takes time to create a community that’s designed to be a metaphor for the social workplace. It takes take time to connect, share, and earn trust. Initiative is imperative — but when relationships are on the line, patience can be even more important.
2) Courage. We didn’t chase after easy money. We stayed with a bootstrapped, organic growth model — and it gave us the freedom to find our true voices and passion. We believed that the community would guide us, even when the road wasn’t clear. And the community has risen to the challenge.
3) Perseverance. It isn’t easy to work 10-20 hours a week or more without compensation. But we stuck to it. We kept showing up. That commitment has made it possible for us to arrive at this third anniversary of #TChat.
4) Engagement Through Trust. Since Day 1, everything we’ve done has focused on engaging with a larger community of HR practitioners, workplace visionaries and leaders. This is a big open tent, filled with people from a vast spectrum of expertise and interests. That’s what makes it such a vibrant, interesting place to be! What makes it possible? Mutual trust. It’s our foundation — and it’s the thing I value most. Above all, we are a community of trust.
5) Learning And Moving On. Through the years, I’ve discovered that growth means leaving some ideas behind. From time-to-time, we need to mix things up, as we continue our mission of serving this eclectic community of practitioners, partners and constant learners.
Change is in the air again, as we look ahead and consider new ways to serve our community’s mission.
This week, which marks #TChat’s third anniversary, presents us with another set of paths. We can continue the community as is, without funding. Or we can embrace a new model that involves careful monetization to fuel additional growth. The second path will give us the financial support we need to add new capabilities for better communication and interaction, integrate new channels for commentary and thought leadership, and create new opportunities to engage with and influence a broader “world of work” for the benefit of all. I’m excited by the challenges these choices present, and I’m eager to move TalentCulture to another level in its growth. But most of all, I’m humbled to lead such an extraordinary community at a time when the very nature of work, itself, is being reinvented.
For three years, we’ve been engaged in an experiment to understand how social innovation can transform work culture, evolve leadership practices, develop trust, and inspire continuous learning. Now, we’re ready to take our first steps toward the next horizon. We hope you’ll join us on that journey. The road ahead may not be entirely clear, but the path is wide, and there’s room for all.
The adventure continues!
Image Credit: Pixabay