Ah, summer. Such a nice relaxing shot of summer food, right? This past week was anything but relaxing. It was actually pretty intense. I had some major projects scheduled and this salad was born out of ingredients that I already had on hand. Don’t you love it when that magic happens? I’m calling this a Nebraska inspired Cobb Salad because it contains Nebraska corn, edamame, farm fresh eggs, and local cheese. Boom. However, the name for this salad was inspired way beyond the ingredient list.
Why was it such an intense week? I had a TV segment on Monday, video shoot on Wednesday, my weekly radio interview on Thursday, and then I helped host an event for 25 people on Friday. Somehow I managed to survive and make this salad.
But I didn’t do it alone. This week I’ve been thinking how incredibly thankful I am for talented friends and family because I seriously couldn’t do what I do each day without this community around me. I have friends that are stay at home moms, CEOs of startup companies, farmers, ranchers, amazing photographers and videographers, graphic designers, developers, jewelry makers, doctors, lawyers, talented writers, and everything in between. Then there is my husband, a startup entrepreneur, who somehow manages to stay completely calm in the midst of chaos.
All of these people play an important role in my life (and husband’s) and all represent the kind of awesome, hard working people we have living in Nebraska and especially in the Lincoln startup community. As I was putting together this salad, it made me think that a community is like a giant salad. You need a mix of different ingredients to make it interesting. Who knew that carrots and cabbage would taste so good with edamame and eggs?
I think we’ve reached a point where it finally feels like we’ve built some community around us and it tastes good.
Yep, things just got deep for a sec.
It also feels good knowing that we can reach out to that community when we need it. I know I can’t do it alone, which is why I ask for help. Maybe that looks like having my friend Stacy call me early on on a Monday morning to make sure I’m fired up for the week. Maybe it’s hiring my friend Ryan to produce a video for me that will enhance my story. Maybe that’s pitching my new startup idea to my friend Jill (who will always listen to them because she has several crazy ideas of her own), or maybe it’s my friend Leah that calls me weekly to encourage me. Whatever it is, I am thankful to call them friends and share in those successes and failures of life. That is what community is all about.
So what’s the recipe for building community?
First, I think just like with food, you start with flavors you like and then challenge yourself with new ones. Start by connecting with like minded folks, but then challenge yourself to meet people who might not look like you or talk like you. This might mean connecting with folks outside of your field. You might be surprised what you actually do have in common or how you can work together. It’s easy for me to connect with Dietitians and Startup Founders, but I am really interested in photography, education, and design. I am truly inspired by creative people! They make me better.
Secondly, I think you have to use other methods to build community. Like cooking, sometimes the difference between grilling or roasting can make a big difference. For example, we thought that going to church would be a good way to build community, but we found that focusing on the startup community is where we found like minded people that actually share our faith. We still go to church, but we’ve let go of the idea that we HAVE TO build community at church. God had other plans. Or maybe it means building community online. I know when I quit my job a few years ago, I used social media as way to connect with other dietitians and professionals. I was not expecting to build community online, but now I have a great community of dietitians & professionals online that have made a huge difference in my career and my spirit.
And lastly, don’t be afraid to throw the recipe away and start with a new one. If it’s not working, it’s not working and you shouldn’t force it. Start over and keep trying until it does. Last year my friend Jill and I started our own monthly group to connect with local, female entrepreneurs. We found that we were looking for that community, so we decided to see if others were looking for it as well. It turns out that there were several women who were looking to connect with other female entrepreneurs. You might have to keep experimenting and keep trying until you find the right mix of ingredients or methods.
When it comes to salad combinations & community building, don’t be afraid to stir things up.