Welcome to the Collection

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Last week I travelled to the US, firstly to Nashville to meet the amazing David C. Baker (more on that another time) and then onwards to Austin, Texas to join the inspirational Win Without Pitching Team. We had a phenomenal afternoon filming with Chad Owen from Stimulus followed by a private tour and dinner at the University of Texas Longhorns stadium, courtesy of the lovely Jeff Hahn.

What ensued was quite possibly one of the funniest evenings I’ve had in a long time. The Ringmaster Blair Enns, began the evening by innocently posing the question “What is your hobby?” to the wildly eclectic, creative, innovative and seriously smart group of individuals from all of the world in attendance.

Well…you couldn’t say work was your hobby. That was a cop out. And some argued that a true hobby cost you more money than it makes you. Others argued that a hobby needed to consume you to the point that you couldn’t think of anything else while you were doing it (obsession would be another definition). 

It began innocently enough. Sailing. Gardening. Cooking. Then people began to divulge the most hilarious stories from collecting used hair ties, visiting all of the Liberty Bells (yes, there is a blog!), a talent for voice over screaming and my absolute favourite, a collector of puffer fish.

This last hobby had me gasping for air and tears streaming from laughter as I heard the tale of a much loved 8-year-old puffer fish, the size of a loaf of bread, who was really more like a dog than a fish. Oh dear, but that is not my story to tell...

But what was mine? After several false starts, where I tried to get away with not having a hobby, I declared ‘I collect people and put them in my mind palace’. I imagine my mind palace looking like Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant’s dream collection (lovingly collected, carefully labelled, mixed and redistributed depending on the task at hand…).

I love meeting people. I love hearing their stories. I love connecting people to other people. I build webs and connections between people to make things happen. I’ve always done it and get such a buzz of electricity when I see it ignite:

“Darren, let me introduce you to Colette”

“Colette, let me introduce you to Darren”’

“I think you two will totally connect with each other as Darren is amazing at this, Colette is outstanding at that and together you could…”,

Cheekily someone said to me recently, oh that’s when you get Ceinwen’d! 

Some people would call this part of the referral process. But it is much more. It is my virtuous circle of individuals and companies, overlaid with all sorts of random facts, information, research and insight that enables powerful connections which work. These are the people who will make a difference all over the world; the disruptors; the story tellers; the game-changers.

Interestingly I have never really thought about it in such an explicit way until the day after the aforementioned dinner party when the gorgeous Aaron Bramwell, CEO Monkee-Boysaid to me:

“That thing you said so glibly last night Ceinwen...”

“Said what Aaron?”

“You know, how you collect people. Because that is exactly what you do. You should have a card for it which says; Welcome to the collection!” 

“Oh, I LOVE that!”

If you have been collected and are in my mind palace of people, it’s because you are outstanding at what you do.

And I am so getting those cards…

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Ceinwen McNeil is the founder and managing director of client focused international strategy firm, First Follower. Drawing on over twenty years of business development and client management experience in both the public and private sectors, she founded First Follower to enable businesses to successfully navigate step growth change. Ceinwen’s direct approach, commercial acumen and exemplary stakeholder engagement skills make her a highly sought-after adviser. Visit www.firstfollower.com for more information.

Ceinwen McNeil