So that was, I think, the 22nd Partner meeting for me. Must be old hat, kind of rote by now, right? … NOT! Yes, it’s my job to say stuff like that, but really, the semi-annual get-togethers continue to be such a source of energy, renewal, connection. Some things haven’t changed a whole lot over those 11 years, some things have.
What’s stayed much the same? For starters, you just can’t beat the charge that comes from getting a couple hundred Partners in the same space together for a few hours. The first person shows up, the next person, it grows, and then it’s like a wave. Some are like old friends and just as exciting are the first-timers that bring this new energy and outlook. You run around talking to a 10-year Partner, then a prospective member, then an investee … It’s the whole “SVP community” thing in action.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is that it’s nearly impossible to get people to quit talking and actually start the meeting. I know my loud whistle is obnoxious, but it’s usually the only thing that works after we’ve unsuccessfully tried the lights, the PA, etc.
I still get every bit as much of a charge about hearing about our investees as ever.
Not just the work they do, but meeting them, thinking about the opportunities and challenges ahead, and working with people of such high quality. May sound schmaltzy, but I mean that in earnest.
The other thing that’s the same is I always get nervous beforehand. Like a lot of things, I guess you worry about it before you do it and then it’s a relief once you get going. And it almost always goes better than I think it will.
Just as much has changed too. People like the new format – some time collectively and then breakouts (thanks, Sofia). Not only is it a better format, but we wouldn’t have had as much going on back in the beginning to fill up the breakouts. Now we could do several more than we have time for at every meeting.
The level of the discussion, and the people are also much different now. First of all, having someone like William Foster talk about the issues he addressed was a level of speaker and content we would not have taken on years back.
The quality of the questions in the breakout also demonstrated how much more deeply our Partners understand the non-profit sector, how it works, etc.
And then the Partners that spoke in the breakouts – a school Board member, founder of a system change foundation – just exemplify how far we have come (and many more Partners will come in the years ahead).
And about those investees again, being able and ready to step up to work hand-in-hand with statewide, system change organizations like Thrive By Five and LEV Foundation just shows we are really ready to realize our strategic goals and vision. Exhilarating.
And oh yah, we have dessert and coffee afterwards now because some people want to keep that conversation going that they started 2 hours ago. We usually have to kick the last few dozen of you out of there at the end. Even though I know it’ll give me a knot in my stomach, I can’t wait for the next Partner meeting in the fall.