Presenting. the Pink Lemonade Gala!?!
What's an organizer to do when the featured speaker cancels his appearance the day before a highly publicized event? Step one: become horrified; step two: contemplate leaving the country; step three: go back to the drawing board; step five: turn lemons into lemonade - Pink Lemonade Gala to be precise!
This is exactly what occurred at the YES!Circle headquarters when Dan Pink, best selling author of "Free Agent Nation," postponed his much-anticipated appearance on August 26th due to a family emergency. Left with 24 hours to come up with an alternate exceptional event, facilitator Margarita Rozenfeld looked no further then her own predicament for an innovative solution. Although initially thrown for a loop, she decided to transform the lemons life dished out into a Pink Lemonade Networking Gala. Armed with creativity, support from co-conspirators and extensive coach training (that certainly helped in this perspective shift), Margarita made the best of the situation and challenged other participants to do the same. Wherever the last-minute inspiration came from, the event's success exceeded expectations.
Although Dan Pink was not present, participants rose to the challenge of making the best of the Pink theme that was cleverly integrated throughout the event. Sponsor Lori Johnston went beyond the call of duty in buying up almost every container of pink lemonade downtown, which went perfectly with the Pink Lemonade Bingo game and related activities.
Although many attendees were surprised to learn about Dan's absence, most elected to join the lively group assembled in the marble vestibule at the DCJCC. As an ice-melter, participants got to share their won lemon-to-lemonade stories in small groups, followed by the "big-group" competition. Bennett Crawford wowed the crowd with his inspirational lemonade story and won an annual YES!Circle membership.
For the rest of the evening, members enthusiastically participated in Pink Lemonade Bingo, which allowed players to ask for (and get) what they wanted (one of fundamental rules of the YES!Circle is "Ask for what you want") in their professional in personal lives. Each person wrote four items they wanted, from inexpensive health insurance and client referrals to office space and tennis partners. Then, everyone networked with other members, gathering leads and ideas. Members were encouraged to exchange contact information and keep in touch after the event. The first three players to complete "Pink Lemonade Bingo" won free passes to future YES!Circle events. However, rather then focusing on winning the game, participants really took the time to listen, share and connect with others. So much so, that it was a challenge separating newly bonded members at the end of the evening!
So, although (or maybe because) the original plan did not pan out, an important lesson emerged - when life throws you lemons, it's the perfect opportunity to throw a Pink Lemonade Gala! Well, good thing Pink Lemonade theme did the trick, otherwise, it would be a lot of cheese to process for the YES!Circle J.
To read about the rescheduled evening with Dan Pink on September 9, click here.
After much anticipation and lemonade, the long-awaited author of "Free Agent Nation" Dan Pink helped the YES!Circle celebrate its six-month anniversary on September 9th! Dan effortlessly won over his audience with his sharp intellect, quick wit and easygoing approach.
"Free Agent Nation" was named one of the best business books of 2001 and has been translated into several foreign languages. It explores the motivations and challenges that inspire entrepreneurs to become "free agents," go into business for themselves. Dan's humorous account of how he became a free agent rang true for many of us. His last "real" job was at the White House, as Vice President Al Gore's Chief Speechwriter. However, the prestige that came with the title did not compensate for being eternally attached to his beeper or for missing precious time with his family.
Dan credits his wife Jessica with giving him the push he needed to quit his job and move towards his dream. As the story goes, Jessica probed Dan for the worst-case scenario if he went into business for himself. After a bit of thought, he replied that he could be a miserable failure and have to get a job, to which she replied "So what you're telling me, is that the worst case scenario and status quo are exactly the same?" Shortly thereafter, Dan "left the White House for the Pink House".
The idea of "Free Agent Nation" came from his desire to connect with other entrepreneurs and discover what drives them. He traveled all across the U.S., interviewing hundreds of micro-businesses, temps and one-person operations - ones he termed "free agents". He estimates that there are 13.5 million micro-businesses, 2.5 million temps and 16 million solo proprietors. Dan found that these folks site many advantages of being self employed, most importantly, higher job satisfaction! He attributes this to fulfillment of the four basic values: authenticity or freedom for self-expression; accountability or belief that one's work makes a difference; self defined success; and freedom or control over time, management, work space, etc.
Dan found that primary problems facing entrepreneurs include loss of traditional employment benefits, particularly health insurance; finding work and isolation. He was fascinated that to combat these challenges, entrepreneurs were binding together and forming what he calls F-A-N (Free Agent Nation) clubs. He pointed out that the YES!Circle is the perfect example of such an organization, helping entrepreneurs connect with each other and the resources they need to succeed!
In the question and answer session, Dan addressed such issued as the effect of recent downturn in the economy, as well as September 11th on the Free Agent Nation. He believes that the current economic and political climate has actually increased the number of free agents because traditional employment is not as reliable anymore, people are looking for deeper meaning in their lives and work and are disillusioned with Corporate America. The session also turned into a mini-best practices session. When someone asked specifics about health insurance, the group came up with a list of alternatives to consider, including professional associations, the National Association of Self-employed as well as getting involved in a network-marketing group that provides group policies. More information about this topic, and many others, is available on Dan's website www.freeagentnation.com.
Dan wrapped up his presentation by encouraging everyone to contact him with further questions and comments. The traditional YES!Circle raffle gave away a complimentary pass to a future event, an autographed copy of Dan's book and the grand prize - a free YES!Circle membership (which I won!) Most participants lingered afterwards to chat with Dan, buy his book (provided by Olsson's), mingle and connect with other entrepreneurs. The atmosphere was positive, light and energetic. What a better way for the YES!Circle to have celebrated the six-month anniversary then with another fantastic event - and so many more are to come!
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