Two weeks ago a traveled to the middle of Kansas to talk about covenant relationships. This, in and of itself, is not a new thing, but the format and the experience were a whole new world.
Earlier this year, I was selected as a speaker for a State of Now/#140 Conference called Small Town 2012 in Hutchinson, Kansas. This ‘twitter’ conference is an interesting event that brought together speakers from all of the country to speak about the effect of social media on small town America.
From the website:
The State of Now (#140conf) events provide a platform for the worldwide online community to: listen, connect, share and engage with each other, while collectively exploring the effects of the emerging real-time internet on business. It creates serendipity in talking to each other, sharing ideas across industries, and exchanging thoughts with people like you and not like you. To put it in rural terms, we’re going to cross-pollinate some ideas. Or think of it as hybrid vigor: your new ideas are much stronger than the ideas that brought them about.
Ummmm..yeah, so not my usual women’s banquet.
And quite honestly, the moment I received my acceptance letter from the event coordinator, Becky McCray, I began struggling with where I would fit in this conference. After all, this is about small towns…and while I technically live in a town with 5,000 people- it’s really more of a suburb of a larger area. I don’t live on a farm, I’m 4 miles to the nearest mall, I can walk to the nearest Wal-Mart…and a load of other reasons paraded through my brain as to why I didn’t think I would have anything in common with the folks I would find there.
Oh, and did I mention, each speaker only has 10 minutes? Yeah, you know this is an unfathomable request to ask me to get to the point in that amount of time.
So for weeks I mulled over what to say…and in the end, I came back to the core message of Strings Attached…covenant relationships are about how YOU interact with the people in your life….online and off.
So I packed up my bags and headed to Hutchinson. When I arrived, I was excited to learn that the receptions and get-togethers planned were in awesome venues like the Kansas Underground Salt Museum and the Cosmosphere. I met super cool people- veterans of this conference who’ve come year after year, who settled my nerves, and, by telling me their stories, held open a space for this newcomer to fit in (Thank you Dennis,Simon, Patsy and Gigi). And on the day of the conference, I got to see real, open hearts. People who, yes, spoke about how social media had changed their lives, but not with numbers and anecdotes, but with stories about fires raging through their hometown and family illnesses and droughts that nearly bankrupted a family(Thank you Dave, Lanna and Carrie).
The stories were amazing, but the people knocked my socks off. For that I am grateful that I ignored all the voices telling me how different I was, and let me see how common our human experiences can be. I’m grateful for the friendships that were forged and new partnerships that are budding from this event. (Thanks, Angela and Melissa for the great talks). And I’m grateful for the opportunity to share a message that might be a little outside the box for a conference like this, but that was certainly well received and honored (thanks again, Becky, for the opportunity).
I hope to return next year, but until then, why don’t you take 10 minutes and check out my talk? Or if you have a little longer, watch through the rest of the videos.