Its becoming quite clear now that I love tribes, In all their shape, sizes and reasons for being. (case and point the esc themed pumpkin I carved this weekend, for my Esc insta takeover!). So I thought it might be interesting to trace back to where it all began and talk about how various tribes have impacted my life over the last 18 months or so. First up…
Escape the City… my gateway drug into the world of tribes. Where do I begin!
It all started back in Spring 2014. Familiar story, I was stuck in my Corporate PwC audit graduate scheme, uninspired and exhausted. I’d been getting the Escape the City newsletters for a a number of months previously, and as many of us do, I’d scan them and file them away into a ‘to come back to later’ folder. Until one day, I spotted an event ‘How to start a food business and get on TV’ with Patrick Drake from Hello Fresh. See, I had this friend at work, who had a food blog and was an amazing cook and was not enjoying her current audit job, so I bought 2 tickets and told her it was my treat. We went along to the Adam Street Social to listen to Patrick who shared his inspiring story. As it happened my friend never came back, but I’ve been here ever since!
Just a whistle stop tour of my escape adventures to date…
I attended a few more events, didn’t say a word, sat in the back listened in awe at these amazing stories of people doing things I didn’t even know was possible. Eventually plucked up the courage to speak to Adele, Matt and Rob and explored what they were up to. Just before one of the events I had signed up for ‘How to travel and write for a living’ with Caroline Sylger Jones (what a promise), Adele emailed all attendees asking for someone to write up the event for the Esc blog. I immediately hit reply and volunteered. I’d just that month started my fledgeling blog, so heck, I was a blogger, I could do this. I wrote up a few more of the events I went to for the Esc blog. A few weeks in I became a willing volunteer, meeting and greeting people as they arrived at events, helping to register people, sorting out drinks and snacks.
Esc announced the idea of beta testing these ‘tribes’ and I jumped at the chance of becoming a Founding Member. As they migrated over to Bathtub to Boardroom and their new permanent home, I came in to help paint the new digs. Escape to the Woods pt.1 happened and once again it was a no-brainer, I was in.
At this point I’d actually been able to find my dream job in Learning and Development, with a bit of hustle still at PwC, due to start 1st October 2014.
I graduated from Founding Membership and became part of the Tribe Alumni. This year I volunteered at a Start Up MBA weekend, worked with Skye and volunteered at the first ever World Escape Day event in London, came along to Escape to the Woods pt.2 and just these past few days taken over the Escape the City Instagram page to show fellow Escapees a little of what I get up to in my #21centurycareer.
Phew!! I think that covers it. Putting it all on one page like that makes my mind boggle. This doesn’t even capture the FB messages/emails to the guys with random thoughts and ideas and suggestions. The escape team have enabled me to get me to where I am today in so many myriad of ways, and there are so many things I’ve learnt about myself, community and how to get shit done. Here are just a few.
Say yes… even if you don’t think you’re ready
You’ll find a way to make it work once you’ve committed to a plan. So many times over the past 18 months I didn’t think that I was in a place to do something, whether that be blogging for Escape, asking folks at work for new opportunities, contacting people I want to get to know better. Most of the time I just ‘held my nose’ and did it anyway. There was just enough excitement in the potential outcome and just enough fear of regret that I just jumped before I was ready. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of those encounters, such as the time I decided to meet with a partner at PwC and give him a copy of The Escape Manifesto or the time I sent a ballsy anti CV to a start up founder to ask for work experience, where I was met with rejection or I wandered straight into a complete dead end and had to go away and nurse my wounds. But it just doesn’t compare to the elation you feel when you say yes and then it all works out just as you’d hoped. I said yes this year to becoming a property guardian, being the project manager on TEDx Brixton, speaking in public, facilitating train the trainer sessions at work and survived. Even though at times I thought I wouldn’t. Now I get to say that I did that stuff and that’s pretty cool.
Consistency makes all the difference, show up and be reliable
There are times, just before a big event, social, work, project, Escape, that I think to myself… I think I’d rather go home, I’m tired, I’ve had a long day, I’m not in the mood. Just a flicker of doubt crosses my mind and I try to rationalize a reason to go home, grab a pizza and watch Netflix instead. There’s a lot to be said for finding time to rest, to recover, to just be, as I discussed in my last post, but ultimately no progress is made if you’re not out in the world bumping into new things, people, ideas. Sometimes I wonder if there is a short cut, a hack, a way to achieve the things I want any quicker and I’m beginning to realize there is no magic to it. Every opportunity I’ve had over the last couple of years has been because I showed up, I helped in any way that I could, stayed positive and did that consistently and reliably over time. The other sure fire way of getting what you want is
I read Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking earlier this year and it fundamentally changed the way I think of the idea of asking for what you want. Even since reading the book, I’ve really struggled to remember just to ask. I try to remember at the end of each day, if I’ve asked for anything that day and often the answer is no. Instead, I hope that the people around me know me well enough or can read my mind somehow and will just know what I need. This is simply not the case. I can’t read others minds, and surprisingly enough they can’t read mine.
Looking back over my escape adventures, work adventures and the like, the quickest way I got what I wanted was by having a clearly defined ask and then just asking for it. I asked Rob if I could help Esc with my volunteer hours I needed to allocate as part of my property guardianship, I got to help with World Escape Day. I asked Steph, the founder of TEDx Brixton if I could be on the team, I became the project manager. I asked a number of people at PwC about opportunities to work in a more people focused role and eventually I got through to my current boss who told me to come in for an interview. Most people are incredibly willing to help if they are able, particularly if you’re specific about what you want, and you
Give as much as you take
I’ve learnt this one slowly and surely so far on my path. You really do only get what you give. Give first, receive later. However you want to think about it. The more you give without any expectation of something in return the better. I’ve learnt so, so much from all the times when I’ve given my time freely to projects I’ve passionately believe in. Whats more, every project that I’ve volunteered on thus far has enabled me to put up my hand for the next project I’ve wanted to work on. Its almost like each time I’ve given, I’ve unlocked another opportunity down the line, without me even realizing it at the time.
Wherever I’ve given my time, my attention, my energy, my focus is where has flourished over the past 18 months. That for me has been my career, my community, my social circles. However, I’m also quite mindful of parts of my life that have been neglected. My family for one has drawn the short straw whilst I explore and adventure about. My fitness and general health and well being had also taken a back seat up until 2 months ago. I struggled with stairs, ate poorly, felt tired all the time. So I’m in the process of fixing that with various accountability buddies, gym memberships, pole dance classes, karma yoga, project awesoming and slowly but surely getting back into shape. Its a constant act of re-balancing.
There are a hundred and one other things I feel I’ve learnt and I could go on, I just rediscovered a the long post I wrote after our Founding Members closing ceremony, equally long and soppy, (I’m clearly a fan of the long form content!) but I’ll pause here. Just a big fat thanks to to the Escape team and all the really important work you’re doing at Escape. Can’t wait to see and be part of whatever is next!
There are a few more tribes I’d like to feature here when I get some time to collect up my thoughts, so watch this space!
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