Episode 48: Building Your Tribe – Leadership Arts Associates

Episode 48: Building Your Tribe

The Transcript

Hello, hello. You are listening to The Heart of It. The official plog as I’m calling it which is basically a blog via podcast episodes because that is my medium of choice as an artist to share all my thoughts and insights with you and who is this person? My name is Samm Smeltzer and I am the founder of a company called Leadership Arts Associates who is responsible for the production of this podcast. And this podcast has gone through a lot of changes, we’re settling into this new brand, talking about things that are truly resonating with the heart of what empowers me to do what I do every single day, which is working with people and helping them find their purpose, their potential and keeping an optimistic point of view on the idea of possibility.

Today I want to talk to you a little bit about tribes. This is a big buzzword out there. I’ve read it on several different blogs and people like to talk about having a tribe, the importance of having that support around you. And if you haven’t heard about this tribe kind of concept, really what it comes down to is having this support group, knowing that you can go back to. And this is materialized in several different kinds of ways for people. Some of it which is very popular is Facebook groups. So when I first found out about Facebook groups or how to use them as a tool I was really excited now I’m a part of probably, my gosh, it has to be like 30 or 40 of these groups where tribes exist. And I actively can’t engage in all of them and I have pick and choose.

LinkedIn has something similar with their groups where you find the support system. There are websites that have memberships. So this online kind of tribe. My spiritual mentor Gabby Bernstein has one called, The Miracle Membership. Way back in the day, Carrie Green has, The Female Entrepreneur Association which I absolutely love and I’m a huge fan of. So if you’re just starting as a female entrepreneur you want to check that out with Carrie Green. And there’s, she was one of my very first podcast episodes in series I like to do in November called The Grateful Showcase. So that’s one avenue.

Then you have just your powerhouse of girlfriends and that’s really popular. You’re hearing girls talk about their tribe which is all their core group of friends who support them. And lately I’ve been making jokes about how I for the first time have a tribe that’s around me. And when I was using it it was actually in the terms of having girlfriends ’cause I’ve, except for way back when when I was first growing up I had a core group of best friends which was three other lovely ladies who all live out in California, have their lives. Incredible women, nowadays. But between that time and then when I moved here when I was 16 in Pennsylvania until about now, so we’re talking about another 16 to 20 years difference here, I haven’t really had a lot of girlfriends that I could just call on. And if I ever did have one it was one. It was a girl friend that I had a very close relationship on.

One of which is very public to most of you who listen to the show is MaryRose Ritter who is my business partner at Leadership Arts Associates. She is also my best friend and the godmother to my beautiful little children. My little girls and her son is my godson. So obviously that relationship has been in the making, we’ve known each other for eight to 10 years now. And that relationship was typical. Like I used to have a girl friend it was never as long as I have been friends with MaryRose so that’s actually been a really strong relationship for me. But beyond that I never really had this core group of friends. And now I actually have recently. I have a group of girlfriends that I can call when I want to go have lunch with somebody, if I want to get coffee. I have a couple options on my phone which is new for me. Its very new for me, it’s a great feeling.

But I want to talk about tribes on a much larger scale. So yesterday we had our LA premier picnic ’cause Leadership Arts Associates just launches a brand new brand. So new logo, new feel and to celebrate we did, basically a company picnic that we opened up to all the people who love and support us, that surround the company because our company is all about people. It’s not just the people who are working for the organization but those that surround it. And so we had our picnic yesterday and it flew by. It was three hours, it was incredible. We had about 35 people that stopped out to say hello, hang out, bring their families, do some fun arts and crafts like squirt gun art and salad spin art and we did some tie dye which I’ve never done that before so it was all new experiences. Squirt gun art too. It was a lot of fun. It was about as close as you could get to feeling like you were at a family event.

And I think that was a big realization for me. There was a couple moments yesterday where I stopped to look around at this picnic and realize that I’m surrounded by this fantastic support group that is in all different shapes and sizes. From people who are staff, people who are coming on as part time creative collaborators and building their service lines. Their loved ones that support them. We have people who I’ve met at conferences briefly who have now started to get more involved in our organization. We have our creative partners. I talked about him in the last episode and Tony Hernandez was there at this current, at the picnic yesterday. And that relationship. Huge, huge supporter for me personally but also for the organization.

And then just so many peers and colleagues that have just been there throughout the entire time and really it is because of them that the organization has grown the way that it has. And it’s because the people who love and support them empowers them too, it all works together. And I was just really touched by the fact that I have this amazing support system. That I, if we went back five years I don’t think I ever envisioned that. I can be brutally honest and say that I felt very alone even though I had an amazing husband, I was married, I had a pretty much, I was very social at work. At the end of the day when I was by myself I felt very isolated. And I don’t feel like that anymore and that’s because I believe I’ve really surrounded myself with people who truly not to sound cheesy, but complete me.

And so obviously today I’m full of tons of gratitude which is kind of what inspired this. But I also think that I want to share with you how I think that this happened. It’s one thing to talk about how appreciative I am and how blessed I am that these people are surrounding me and supporting me and supporting my organization but how do you get there? And I think that’s something that a lot of people ask me. Whether directly or indirectly. And originally I would respond, I don’t know. It just kind of happened. But that’s not true. There are some things that I put into place at the very beginning which really empowered this to all happen and I want to take a few minutes and share that with you.

First and foremost when I first started Leadership Arts Associates and I was in a place that was better but not best. One of the things that, a rule that I set for myself is that I wasn’t going to say no to any opportunity especially because it was uncomfortable. So I did some really strange things. I don’t know, I don’t think they’re strange. But for example the phone was not ringing very much so answering them and there’s a lot of advertisers cold calls that are happening. Most of us don’t answer our phones anymore because we see caller ID and we just kind of ignore it. Well I answered them and if somebody wanted to meet with me I said yes. So even though they wanted to sell me something, I took that as an opportunity to meet with somebody, to interact with them because it was something I was not very good at.

And my husband would be taken aback by why are meeting with that vendor and this vendor ’cause I met with a lot at the beginning even though I didn’t really have an organization, didn’t really have a need for any of those things. So like payroll companies, I was upfront with them, I told them exactly where I was, I told them about my vision. But I met with these people and some of those turned into relationships others not so much. But I never said no. So anytime somebody called me and had an idea, asked me if I wanted to come visit a group, if I wanted to meet with somebody, I said yes. I said yes, I said yes, I said yes. And that really made a difference.

The other piece that I think is even more important is not only did I have this rule about not saying no as opportunities presented itself no matter how irrelevant they seemed to me is that I didn’t judge them. And I think that we have this really good automatic almost filter that we all built in and I talk about this a lot with some of the staff here at Leadership Arts Associates is that we think that we know people almost automatically. And if there’s anything that I’ve learned from working at Leadership Arts Associates and trying to figure out who is my target audience, who is my client, is that you can’t assume. You can’t assume who these people are, where they are, what they’re open to. Because it’s just it’s not that easy.

When I was in my first year of business I did a presentation for the bi-local coalition here in York Pennsylvania and I was doing it on diversity, talking a little bit about privilege and perceptions and that’s where I met Audrey Gregis who is an amazing very wealth of knowledge when it comes to the world of nutrition. And when she listened to my presentation and was touched, one of the things that she shared and you may have seen this on the website in her testimonial is that she says that I taught her that it’s like everybody, the world looking at people is like a walking library and you’re only seeing the cover and what do we do to take a couple steps to actually look inside the book and understand really what its contents are.

I think that’s a really good analogy ’cause for most of us we are books. But we’re just covers. There’s not even for a lot of us, there’s not even a fancy summary or testimonials in the back. Every once in a while you get that. You get friends who will recommend somebody, tell you a little bit about that person. Sometimes if you live in an area like where I live in York PA you can find almost the six degrees of Kevin Bacon of who’s connected and put some things together. Others maybe you’re introduced to them at a conference where you actually get a bio or they have a really nice LinkedIn profile so you kind of get a summary. But for most of us we’re going into a space and we’re strictly looking at the cover. We’re strictly looking at how somebody is acting in the space or the limited information that we get for most. If you go into a networking event it’s my name and my title. Which is no different than a title of a book and the author. And then we’re making quick assumptions.

When I started, I removed that. I fought that. And even if it was a mechanic who wanted to meet with me, I went out and had a conversation with him. And I can tell you that in that situation I went out and met with an auto mechanic who I guess would you call that my ideal client? Would you think in grand perspective when they’re asking you to vision and say who is your ideal client, I don’t know if that industry or that description would ever come into mind. But that was one of the most engaging and thought provoking conversations that I’ve ever had in the three years of my networking experience and I never saw it coming and I could’ve said no.

The other thing is I have a client today who’s been around for almost two years and he owns a moving company. When I met with him I never thought that a moving company, a family owned company would have any use for our services and was I wrong. From sharing he asks questions and sharing about our business I remember it was one lunch and by the end of it he was asking how he can sign up and do something and try something with us. You just don’t know. You have no idea and the more that we assume, the more that we judge the covers of the book without really truly giving a genuine effort to find out what’s inside of them and understanding them, we’re doing ourselves a really big disservice.

And going back looking at my past I can tell that I did that for years and years and years. Even in my professional career and maybe that’s why I had so many blocks and hit so many dead ends because I would go into these spaces and automatically assume and create who was worthy to be for me to engage with versus who was not. Or who I thought would be willing to engage with me and who I thought would not.

‘Cause I totally did that and there’s another episode if you go back, the Grateful Showcase from this past year with Becky Stauffer I talk a little bit about that in that episode because she had so much wealth and experience as a tenured HR professional that I thought that I wasn’t at that level where somebody like that would be able to affirm me or see the value in what I could provide and she totally changed that for me which was a huge game changer for me and my business. For me as a professional and now she’s a huge promoter, supporter for me and my business and it’s been, not even in my business, for me as a person, she’s taken time to care about me and mentor me in certain situations. Look for opportunities for me that I am so grateful for. But that all comes from removing those assumptions initially. And how long have I been in her circle and not really engaged with her, we could’ve had a relationship a lot longer if I had gotten over those assumptions way back in the day.

So I guess my biggest challenge to you is if you’re looking to have tribe, if you don’t, I ask you to really evaluate what do you think that would add to your life? And if you’re thinking I’m not a social butterfly, I like to be alone. Hey, totally get you. I know everyone calls me a liar, I’m introverted by nature. I have to be extroverted for my job so I step out of the box and I do that. But people truly do drain me and I have to spend a large amount of time by myself to rejuvenate myself and get my energy back up. And so it’s really is a, it’s like a dance that I do with myself to make sure that I stay healthy and mindful to be at the top of my game. And that something that I’m still working on and maybe that’s a whole another topic for a different day.

Even I have now learned the value of the tribe and the supporters. And when you build those genuine relationships, know that people will learn about you and know and respect your boundaries. ‘Cause your true tribe and supporters will understand that. And so these are not fake relationships, these are truly authentic relationships which are the only true ones when you’re talking about having the kind of relationships where you feel like you can reach out to anybody whenever you truly need them.

Number one, if you don’t think you need one I would truly evaluate how could a tribe like this add value or add to your fulfillment for your life? And then on the flip side if your trying to get one and you feel like you can’t find these relationships and you’re getting dead ends. What assumptions are you making? I interact with one individual on a regular basis that I’ve tried to reach out to on a couple of occasions and they routinely are putting up walls. And it pains me inside just because I know what that’s like ’cause I’ve been there before where I put up those walls.

And I try to hit the wall every once in a while to see if I can get it to crumble a little bit and bring that person along. But I truly believe that at some point she will embrace it as well and be coming onboard and finding that tribe that she is actually desperately seeking. And she puts it out there but yet she doesn’t realize the walls that she’s putting or the blocks and obstacles which a lot of us put in place which are basically populated I really believe by assumptions and judgements that we’re making and we don’t even know.

If you want a tribe and you’re struggling with that, what assumptions are you making? If you are struggling with not understanding what obstacles you may be putting up and you can’t see it, phone a friend. Phone me, that’s a lot of what I do, that’s what I love to do. That’s truly at the core and the heart of the work that I do with clients and my favorite kind. So with that I’m going to leave you. I’m in a great place today of gratitude, I’m so appreciative. Anybody who’s listening that came to the premier picnic yesterday, thank you so, so much you have no idea how much you impact my world and how grateful I am for all of you because you truly, if you had an influence, if you’re questioning if you have an influence on anyone’s life, that doubt should be put to rest because you’ve had an impact and an influence on mine.

With that I will talk to you soon when I cover the latest and greatest of what’s oozing and pouring from my heart. Have a great day, bye.

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