This past Thursday we hosted over 100 local business, media, and PR professionals from the local area as guests at my employer’s office. The group is called BMPR, affectionately called “Bumper”.
I’ve been lucky to meet many members of this group, to include most of the founders, well before this event. What started as a Tweetup has grown into a community of like-minded people that want to help each other raise the bar – to get better at reaching, serving, and satisfying their customers. And to teach each other how to get better – which is the real key. Vibrant communities are built when people care more about US then they do about “me”.
This is a pure grass-roots organization, with no dues, no real rules, but a lot of shared excitement, and curiosity, and a desire to both learn, and to teach.
I was lucky enough to speak at BMPR two months ago, and I had fun with it. I had the dorkiest slide deck ever because I’m not a fan of slides. I would rather “talk story”, as they say down under.
So for three years, almost, I have been talking about this company I work for, and how amazing it is. And I know some people were probably getting tired of it, because it just sounded like me beating a corporate drum. But last Thursday a lot of my friends got to come and see why I love talking about who I work for.
It is not a perfect place, but it is most often a magical place. Being able to share that with 100+ of my friends, and the friends of my friends was really cool. I was pretty proud to have them see what we did with an old shopping mall – how we turned it into a very comfortable home for Fanatical Support to live – and grow.
Managing over 100 guests at a time, to include a tour through offices with a thousand or more people actually doing their day jobs isn’t something many companies would welcome. My bosses supported the idea from the first email I sent that asked, “What if…?”.
They were so in sync with me on my desire to just show off a little bit of what we are building – we are not done by any means – both our mall (The Castle) and our company are still expanding very quickly. They had no clue who BMPR was – they just knew it was important to me. Important enough that a member of the senior leadership team took some time to welcome people, and stayed around for most of the session.
I’ve been a Rackspace customer for a long time – and approaching being an employee for three years. The things Rackspace has let me do – the ideas they have let me pursue; the chances they have let me take… It really is a different kind of company. Where the Chairman might call me at 12:30 am if that is the only time we can find to talk, or I might have a 1:1 dinner with the CEO. Where a Social Media team is built off of engineers and not marketing. Where one over-riding goal of “Be Helpful” permeates everything we try to do.
Where a great idea can get funded if you are passionate enough to pursue it.
That doesn’t happen in a lot of companies our size. It is a little magic. And I’m glad I can invite in guests that can get a bit of a sense of that magic.
Everything starts with community. From the way we are building our company to why BMPR matters.
If you want to make your life more full – get involved with your community. There are some amazing people out there wiling to both learn and teach you. Find them. They are looking for you too.
We all need each other.
Thanks so much to my friends in BMPR for letting me show you a bit of my world – and for sharing so much of yours with the rest of us.
Note – edited to link to my dorky slide set, per request.