December 1st 2008. The inaugural Smarter Egg learning group met for the very first time. The concept was quite simple. Bring together ten people from across the business community. Create a learning environment underpinned by confidentiality, respect and trust. Inject stimulus from thought-provoking materials (books, articles, audios, videos).
December 1st 2010. The eighth Smarter Egg group that has followed the ‘Break From The Pack’ programme meets for the last of five sessions. A symmetry of sorts. Two years on, to the day.
Before that very first session, it was difficult to predict how this concept would evolve. Would people enjoy it? Would they get benefit from it? Would they see it as a valuable investment of time and money?
The evidence of the past two years suggests that the answers to these questions have been positive. The response from the participants has been wonderful. A ‘tribe’ has grown (thank you, Seth Godin). Dozens of stimulating and productive sessions have been held. Hundreds of new relationships have been developed.
There has been a lot of learning along the way. Learning about new ways of looking at old problems, about new ways of doing things, about how to handle situations that hadn’t previously been apparent. Many participants have been emboldened with inspiration and confidence and have launched new ventures. Many more have had significant moments of realisation and have stopped doing old things.
There has been a lot of laughs. I have seen strong friendships develop. There also have been some tears. More than I expected. When you stop to think, really think, all manner of emotions can bubble up.
There has been a lot of reading. And a lot of listening. Some writing. Some drawing. Some presenting. All manner of crazy exercises and assignments, from measuring happiness levels to redesigning business models.
Gallons of tea and coffee have been enjoyed. Wine has been consumed (there’s photographic evidence). Even beer. And on occasion, champagne. We have eaten sandwiches, cookies, mince pies, soup, extraordinary culinary delights from UmNumNum (those who have learned with Margaret will smile as they read this), and most significantly, ‘tiffin’.
I’ve learned a lot about people. And about business. All of this has happened during a very challenging economic downturn. Some haven’t been able to keep the ship afloat. Some have deftly moved to a new game. Some have reinvented what they do and the world seems a brighter place.
In many ways, the Smarter Egg story is only beginning to write itself. There is so much potential within the existing tribe and there are so many great ideas for connecting new people. Who knows what we will reflect upon on December 1st 2012?
Thanks to all of you who have been part of this. Thank you for making this something special.