I keep hearing about how lonely the world is becoming. Articles like this one from The Atlantic have been popping up for several years now, while this one, like many recent books and posts, touts that Millennials are now the loneliest generation of all. Some of what you read out there makes you wonder if 21st Century technology has doomed us all to a life of solitude. Well, it doesn't have to be that way!
Last week, I stood in the conference room at Tribe Commons in Philadelphia. I was facilitating the first seminar for the Tribe 12 Fellowship. It's one of the PresenTense programs, which seek to help innovators and social entrepreneurs around the world build new ideas into transformational ventures. As I met the innovators in the room, I was reminded how valuable and natural it is to create actual offline connections.
The woman who introduced the agenda for the day was Danielle Selber, coordinator for the Tribe 12 Fellowship. I had a position similar to Danielle's in D.C. before I launched my coaching business, 100 Reasons to Win, but she and I have known each other much longer; we were both Fellows at Birthright Israel NEXT (her in Philadelphia and me in Chicago). We have kept in touch since, though mostly with the help of social media.
NEXT was also how I first connected to PresenTense. I was at a conference for NEXT staff and volunteers in New Orleans several years ago when Ariel Beery, co-founder of PresenTense, happened to sit down next to me at lunch and we struck up a conversation about his organization. I loved the idea and made a mental note that I should try to reconnect someday. Well, someday came just a few years later when I moved to D.C., where my wife received an amazing job opportunity. I didn't have a job lined up, so I started networking. I met with the campaign director at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington (we were connected through a Birthright trip organizer I knew in Chicago who ran their trips) and she informed me that PresenTense was coming to D.C. and the program needed a coordinator. Without hesitation, I told her to hire me.
Back at the Tribe 12 seminar, one of the Fellows standing near me, Carly, is the director at Challah for Hunger. Turns out she is working with an executive coach at Generate Change named Annie Lumerman, a client of mine from 100 Reasons to Win. It felt like I was meeting the professional equivalent of my grandchild.
I felt like this sort of connecting, reconnecting and interconnecting was happening all day. All of us were finding enjoyment and benefit from taking the time to spend the day together and meet face to face. I could rattle even more details of all the personal and professional connections and funny coincidences, but hopefully you see the point.
It is often quipped that the world is made smaller by way of all the social media outlets at our disposal. Every new platform has the power to bring the seven billion inhabitants of our planet closer together. Let's not forget that behind every Twitter handle or Facebook profile is a real person making a real connection.