Taking the LBL Conversation to the Next Level

An open letter to the LBL Community:

My heart is racing. I am struggling to find the perfect words. So I won’t try. I hope you all know me well enough now to know that I believe we’re here for a reason and I am just as much along for the ride as you are. Thanks for seeing me as a leader, but the truth is, we’re all leaders. I just happened to go a little off the deep end and see what might happen if we tried a few things.  I poked the box (Seth’s way of saying I tested new ideas, changed them, tested them again, changed them again, all while seeing how you–LBL–would respond), and I am glad that you all have been here to see what happened!

Recently, a conversation was started by Alex Eisenberg in the LBL Forum that at this moment has generated 370 comments. As a result of the feedback from this conversation, I believe I am ready to take some steps to make some important changes. (Yep, there’s that word we all love – change.) Because of Alex’s willingness to ask the tough questions, I am seeing an opportunity to bring our conversations to a much more efficient level. And I want you there!

Do we all agree on the value of engagement and connection? If so, we have the opportunity (if not duty) as business leaders to drive conversations. These conversations should not only help us meet our immediate needs and goals but also reach beyond what we have accomplished together so far with LBL using the convenience of Facebook, and take us into a new frontier that will truly give us the opportunity to lead.

One of the (many) lessons I have learned along this path is that I want to enable the conversation to reach far and wide – to be inclusive and accessible to anyone who might find value in being part of a conversation that is designed to cultivate a strong local business community. And time and time again, I have met incredible people with wisdom, experience, and talent to share only to discover they are not engaged on Facebook. How long are we going to exclude them from the conversation? How long are we going to depend on the convenience of a 3rd party site that isn’t invested in our community to “own” our conversations? When are we going to do the hard work to create meaningful, sustainable change?

Are you ready to leap?

I am going to ask you to imagine something that doesn’t yet exist in our community, but could, if you’re willing to join me in the deep end.

Imagine online conversations that not only are driven by the timely questions posed by a thoughtful member, designed to drive engagement and to challenge us to think and grow, but also resulting in a library of these incredible conversations that can be repurposed and available online so that the dialogues can continue to inspire and benefit the members of the community that might not have been present at the moment the conversation was sparked.

Even the most engaging post on Facebook has a short shelf-life! And the awkward “bump” from a person who tries to re-engage the topic months (or years later) seems forced, and rarely accomplishes the intended goal. Our next level conversations will be created in such a way that we can organize them, tag them, archive them and make them searchable, giving both the author and the community a benefit at the same time!

Let’s take it a step further. Let’s imagine one of these conversations leading us to realize that the small business community in Lakeland is in need of more support in a particular area. The challenges we share, the questions we ask and the archive of that dialogue can be presented in a variety of ways. No longer do we need to guess what is grinding our gears, or challenging our growth. The frequency of the usage of the terms being used can be gathered and we can connect with experts in the community, provide them with the insight to our specific needs and allow them to fine-tune their presentations specifically to our needs! Making this a goldmine of information, resources, tools and content that will begin to establish what we all know, but can’t prove yet – because it’s all buried in tens of thousands of conversations hidden in a Facebook group that will never be resurfaced again – that Lakeland is filled with an incredibly talented, brilliant and kind business community that believes in the power of collaboration.

A culture of (real) collaboration.

Imagine what the culture of our business community might look like if we all pooled our energy and our information together and created an asset that can be used by everyone, anywhere!

Here’s what I’m envisioning:

  • The existing Facebook group will remain intact and conversations revolving around referrals, recommendations, and connecting with people and companies in specific industries will continue to happen. The comments on Alex’s post revealed that these conversations are valuable to many of you.
  • A new platform will be created where premium members can:
    • Have powerful conversations beyond simply networking.
    • Act as a support or mastermind group where established and emerging leaders in our small business community can connect
    • Learn, engage, and grow, while establishing themselves as experts in their industry.
    • Inspire and encourage other business leaders.
    • Ask questions and request feedback on entrepreneurial issues.
    • Reference organized past conversations by topic in a permanent “archive.”
  • These two conversation hubs will co-exist and serve two distinct (but separate) needs of the small business community: lead generation and collaboration, bringing a new level of value to our members.
  • Our events will be driven by the outcomes of our conversations. We’ll find the content you need and bring it to you, either in person or in an online meeting!

This is exciting to me! This is what I would like to work with you to create. This is what I believe we can do together!

You’re invited.

We’re going to start building LBL in a new, innovative and risky place. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Who and what are we looking for?

A diverse group of people (different ages, levels of experience, industry, time in LBL) who are willing to:

  • A real willingness to try something new, with an open mind to the challenges of “change.”
  • Contribute meaningful ideas and suggestions to this new conversation.
  • Be open and share new ideas and thoughts with others (some familiar to you, some not).
  • Give candid feedback on the new platform and the conversations being had.
  • Be present with a growth mindset and a belief in the potential of the LBL community.
  • Invitations will be sent to the first 25 people who are willing to commit to being a part of this process, whether or not they are a current LBL premium member!

If you’d like an invitation, please visit this link to request early access to the BETA of a new way to engage with the LBL Community! Space is limited, and reserved for the first 25 passionate, dedicated, committed people who will be willing to do the hard work and sprint with us to build something important for our community.

Please do not ask for an invitation if you will be unable to be truly engaged in this process (at least an hour a day) for the next 30 days.

Something I learned from Seth Godin: You can do anything for 30 days!

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