I got back from the SVP International conference in Portland almost two months ago. (Next one is in Palo Alto, CA, October 17-19, 2013 – Be there!!!) I’ve been meaning to jot down some thoughts, but the last 7-8 weeks of the year were a blur of SVP activity.
We call the international conference, affectionately, “drinking the Kool-Aid.” Anyone that comes to this conference of hundreds of Partners and dozens of staff from across the network has such a great opportunity to really get it, really get the value and the reach of the SVP movement. This one had all the stuff I’ve come to value and love over the years – seeing old friends, learning new ideas, being inspired by work going on in other cities, and sensing that like-minded spirit and ethos that cuts across the whole network, no matter where you are from.
But there was an extra, unique moment for me this year, on Friday night. I had dinner with 3 or 4 SVPI Board members, Ruth Jones, and key leaders from our formative SVP efforts in India and China. India isn’t just formative – www.svpbangalore.org – and we will have an SVP in China too in 2nd half, 2013. This is all coming together in India because of the vision of a handful of SVP Partners – Will Poole, Janet Levinger, Dave Richards. And in China because of that same kind of vision from SVPI Board members – Nancy Cannon, Lance Fors, Ruth Jones.
At dinner that night, we sat and listened to the aspirations and dreams of the founders in India and China-to-be. It was stimulating, very exciting, and … just a little bit overwhelming. Towards the end of their informal “presentations,” I sort of glazed over for a few minutes. I was remembering back to late 1997 to the founding event at The Ruins with Paul Brainerd, Scott Oki, Maggie Walker, Ida Cole, Bill Neukom and a hundred-plus squeezed into the room; especially to the founding vision of Paul Brainerd.
I texted Paul B a pic and short note to try to share that dinner with him. If you’d have heard the key leaders from India and China you’d think they were sort of channeling that evening in 1997; they really “get it,” even though they are halfway around the world, living in cultures and countries very different from North America. How is it possible that an idea could be so powerful and strong that it could spread ALL the way around the world in 15 years? (If you don’t believe me, come to Palo Alto next October.)
I know the founders weren’t thinking about other parts of the world, or even the USA, when they created SVP, but in a way, that speaks even more powerfully to how compelling their vision was – they put it out there and people from around the world have “found it.” There were two times during the conference when the new ED of SVP Bangalore, Arathi Laxman, was introduced, once at Staff Day and once at a plenary session. The cheer both times was spontaneous, boisterous, totally energizing. When she stood up, everyone in the room could feel they were a part of something bigger … now much bigger … than themselves.
Still makes my eyes glaze over a bit.