Last Wednesday, Jason and I (and our handsome pup Plaxico) journeyed down to West Palm Beach for an awesome event called Startup Weekend West Palm Beach.
If you haven’t heard of Startup Weekend before, it’s an event where people who are enthusiastic about entrepreneurship gather, form teams, and for 54 hours they work on an idea to launch a company. At the end of the weekend, each team gets to pitch their startup to the judges and a winner is selected.
Jason was asked to speak at the event so I decided to tag along, plus I wanted to celebrate a girlfriend’s birthday on Friday night and Saturday in Ft. Lauderdale.
Though I wasn’t able to spectate the entire weekend, I did make it back in time to catch the final pitches on Sunday evening. I was also able to attend some of the other events throughout the weekend that my friend Nick over at Startup Palm Beach put together, including a party celebrating the release of Jason’s book Creativity For Sale.
But the questions is… why am I telling you my full itinerary? What does this weekend have to do with you?
Well, I can honestly say that in the past five days, I’ve had more in-person conversations than I probably have had in the past three months combined.
Now, before you have time to process how sad and pathetic that is, let me tell you why that is.
Jason and I are both self-employed, solo entrepreneurs. We don’t have an office full of people that we get to chat it up with; we both work from home. We also live in a pretty remote part of our city called Ponte Vedra Beach. It’s at the Southeastern most point of Jacksonville and it takes easily 30 minutes just to get to the more populated part of the beach, much less downtown to attend events and meetups.
That doesn’t mean we don’t try to get out and meet new people when we can. We definitely do. It’s just that sometimes it’s easier to stay where you’re comfortable, isn’t it? It’s easy to make excuses for why you don’t want to attend this event or you’re too tired to head out to that networking thing.
This weekend, though, was exactly the reminder I needed of how important it is to “get out of your bubble,” as Jason likes to say.
At those various events in West Palm, I can truly say I met some amazing new friends. I was surrounded by people that were interested in similar things – they were entrepreneurs, marketers, people passionate about loving their work. I was able to learn from their businesses, their experiences, their challenges, and I was able to share with them my vision for my own company. Those conversations have left me with a renewed confidence in the direction I’m headed.
In fact, as a result of some of those chats, I was able to get three new leads for potential branding projects… in one night! If you’re a fellow creative entrepreneur, you know how big that is!
Sometimes we spend so much time worrying about how to market ourselves and our businesses online that we forget to simply get out of our own backyard and meet some new people.
The same goes for improving ourselves not just as business owners, but as people too. I believe encounters with new people, especially outside of your typical circle, can be an important part of stepping outside your comfort zone and growing as a person.
So…This week I challenge you to get out of your bubble.
Find an event where you can connect with like minded people, and make it your goal to attend. Just see what happens. My guess is you’ll be amazed the opportunities that present themselves when you simply offer yourself up to a new environment.
Can’t wait to see what happens when you take yourself out of your comfort zone.