Yesterday I did something that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. Just for a moment, I wanted to talk with real people, doing real business. I wanted to engage in meaningful conversations with everyday business people who’ve never heard of New Media pioneers such as CC Chapman, Adam Curry, Dave Winer, Scott Sigler, Jason Calicanis, or Michael Arrington. Just for a moment, I wanted to step outside of the fishbowl. WAY OUTSIDE!
Through the magic of Google, I found the Orange County Executives Network, a small professional organization that caters to executive business folks. As a stroke of luck, their monthly breakfast meeting was scheduled for a mere twelve hours later, so I registered and paid the $45 non-member fee. I smiled. $45 per head? The cost alone guaranteed that I’d be the only New Media person in the room!
I arrived at the plush Pacific Club in Newport Beach at 7:30 in the morning. The first thing that I noticed? Suits! Everyone was wearing suits, including me (who looks damned good in one I must add). No cut-offs or T-shirts, just men in shirts and ties, and women in…err…professional women-clothes — I think they’re called blouses and pant-suits. And everyone looked comfortable in their respective attire — a good indicator that I was the only New Media guy in the room.
I entered the ballroom, registered, and affixed a hand-written name tag to my lapel. There was some serious networking going on — but everyone was very nice, and I felt welcomed. We sat down to a nice breakfast, engaged in some business chit-chat, which was then followed by the guest speaker — a motivational-type by the name of Niurka. Luckily, I was on my third cup of coffee by the time Niurka spoke, because she started running at 60 miles per hour on her way to 100. Reeling from her raw energy, I became convinced that the only reason she has one name is because her last name just can’t keep up. My head is still spinning from the barrage of motivational wisdom she imparted onto us.
But my favorite part of the breakfast was the crowd. I was surrounded by fascinating people — from bankers, to investment folks, to accountants, to CEO recruiters. Add one politician and a guy from Musak (yes the elevator music company) and it was one of the most rewarding mornings that I’ve had in a long time.
“So what do you do, Ron?” most got around to asking me.
I’d been practicing my response. “I help companies get closer to their customers through the use of New Media technologies. You know like blogs, podcasts, wikis, etc…?”
The reactions were mixed. About half looked at me like I had two heads, before launching into what they did for a living. But the other half? They engaged immediately:
- “I’ve heard about that, tell me more”
- or “I’ve always wanted to start a blog, but have no idea where to begin,”
- or “What do those things have to do with my business?”
I had fun speaking with these folks, who were genuinely interested in learning more. So much so, that I have two invitations to continue our conversations over coffee.
I’ll let you know how they go.