I like to make the most of my business travel. After my work obligations are Sharpied into my calendar, I always fill the open spaces in my schedule with personal activites. That might include eating at an interesting restaurant, exploring, museuming or exercising. But my favorite activity to add to a work trip, by far, is socializing. Sometimes I meet new people. Sometimes I reconnecting with old friends. And sometimes I do both at the same time.
I had to travel to Atlanta this week for a film shoot. Since I had to fly in on Monday I began filling my afternoon with interesting activities. Here is what I did between 12:30 and 6:30pm:
- Had lunch with a former client
- Had back-to-back-to-back meetings with 3 different freelancers who are currently working with my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry.
- Met with a college senior to talk to him about his career options after he graduates.
- Guest lectured to a college marketing class about creativity and the creative process.
- Stuck around 20 minutes after the lecture to talk to a group of 5 students who had more questions.
- Drove to my Atlanta neighborhood in East Cobb and talked to my neighbor, Dr. Betty Garrot about my recent trip to India (Betty’s family is from India, and they contacted me when I was in Bangalore).
It was a fun and interesting day. But what I had planned for Monday evening was really special. Last Friday I texted my college teammate Jabari Pride, who lives in Atlanta, and asked him if he would like to get together Monday night. He said yes. So I reached out to another, former University of Wisconsin track athlete, Lenton Herring, who lives in Atlanta, and invited him too. Then I reached out to Stephanie Herbst-Lucke, who was not only up for getting together, she invited us to gather at her home. So we decided to contact a couple more former Badger track athletes to tell them what we were doing.
Just three days later, on a rainy Monday night in Atlanta, these are the Badger track alum who showed up:
- Adam Abrecht: Discus and hammer thrower from Norwich Vermont, now living in Milwaukee (but still a proud Atlanta home owner).
- Jabari Pride: Sprinter and all-around athlete from Los Angeles, now living in Atlanta.
- Lenton Herring: Jumper and sprinter from Gainesville Florida, now living in Atlanta.
- Stephanie Herbst-Lucke: Distance runner from Chaska, Minnesota, now living in Atlanta.
- Tina Erps-McGee: Sprinter and jumper from Bettendorf Iowa, now living in Atlanta.
- Terry Reese: Hurdler from Fort Wayne Indiana, now living in Atlanta.
- Scott Jenkins: Distance runner from Kenosha, Wisconsin, now living in Atlanta.
- Stephanie (Bassett) Orman: Distance runner from Bloomington, Indiana now living in Atlanta.
- Mark Euler: Jumper from Madison, Wisconsin, now living in Atlanta.
- Reed Connor: Distance Runner from The Woodlands, Texas, now living in Atlanta.
Socializing not Social Networking
It was an amazing night. I got to see friends and teammates I have known for decades, some of whom I hadn’t seen in decades. I also got to meet three new Badgers. We talked about our families and careers. We shared stories about our days competing for the University of Wisconsin. We talked about our coaches and the things we learned from Ed Nuttycombe, Peter Tegen, Martin Smith, Mark Napier, Scott Bennett, Mick Byrne, Mary Grinaker, Robert Hackett and others.
We talked about how there is no other experience quite like spending your college career in Madison. We talked about the unique people, the unique setting and the unique educational environment. Because of our shared history, the group instantly felt like a community. We traded contact information and made plans to gather again. Just like that, the W Club-Atlanta was born.
Connect In Person
This was a great reminder to make sure you see your people in real life. It is great to keep in touch with each other on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. But people are better in person. We all need to experience real human connections. Those connections are strongest, and most impactful, when we are in a room, talking to each other, face to face.
I encourage you to reach out to your people. Get together with friends from home, from college or camp. Organize a gathering of former co-workers, teammates or roommates. Get together with your neighbors. Or create your own social or professional groups.
At the end of our days, the only thing that will really matter is the relationships we build, and the impact we have on each other. Don’t be afraid to make the first move. I did. And because of it, ten former Badger track athletes are now part of another special community 803 miles from Madison.
*Special thanks to fellow Badger, James Lucke for hosting us and joining us Monday evening! On Wisconsin!