Like Herding Cats…

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Meeting at Stanford to discussion our Mission Statement

We just had an amazing meeting on Sunday at Stanford. I can’t believe how well things went, considering how many pieces were being juggled. My main lesson learned is that, if I’m rounding up all the participants, then I’ll have no energy left to direct the meeting. Good thing I’m not the only one capable of running the meeting, since I am the most capable of getting everyone in the same room.

This post is not about what we accomplished during that meeting, it’s about how much mental energy it took to pull off such a gathering.

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Notice the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies on the table.

Who did we have at this meeting?

  • UCSC: David, Tracy, and Kathleen
  • Stanford: Derek, Yi, and Chris
  • Berkeley: Margaret
  • UCSD: Ethan and Chris
  • Master Werks: John

David, Tracy, Kathleen, and I drove together. Margaret took BART/Caltrain and needed to be picked up from the station. Ethan and Chris were going to Google Hangout. John was going to Skype in, and James, the accountant, was going to phone in. We’d need 3 computers and speakers, and I also wanted some recording of the meeting.

I was juggling all this in my head at the time. Finding out who was going to come was a challenge, because most people needed to be asked individually (many times) or they would never come. Coordinating laptops and speakers would be challenging, b/c I needed to know who would be there, and since many of us were not from Stanford, we need to know whether our computers would even connect online, along with any other technological troubles.

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Chris and Ethan from UC San Diego

Derek, Yi, Chris, and Ethan weren’t sure if they’d be coming. The Ravens and the Patriots were playing during our meeting, and people were going skiing that weekend. I have the task of making sure people get there, and asserting the importance of their presence, without making them feel pressured.

The main objective is to get everyone on the same page and figure out fundraising. My brain was at that point was so saturated. My hope was in having seasoned professionals like John and James break things down and effectively unify us. I, myself, am carrying so much information, that it’s a real challenge to explain things that can be broadly coherent anymore.

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I forgot that Derek was allergic to walnuts.

The day of the meeting, there were still 7 people who I wasn’t sure would be attending. James, the accountant, had a last minute conflict and probably wouldn’t be phoning in. All I could do was make cookies and hope for the best. I think, in addition to all the pressure, I was feeling quite lonely that day.

I mean, what’s the optimal amount of confidence I need to demonstrate? How transparent am I allowed to be? Should I show my frustration and doubt? All I know is that relationships and trust are primary things that holds this all together– that there is some confidence in corresponding with me.

As things turn out:

  • Everyone is late
  • The computers don’t connect online
  • Phones were dying in the midst of coordinating rides

Luckily, Derek was able to come and record the meeting. Yi, who’s from South Africa, was able to come share his experiences, growing up in Africa. John was able to Skype in and give great insight about the filmmaking industry. Mentally, I am maxed out. I’m contending with a room full of intense problem solvers, while trying to hold together all the details, AND the big picture of why we’re even there.

I had trouble finishing my sentences with the mental energy I had left, after trying to get everyone in that room. What do you do while you wait for people to show up? What about the technology? How do we make everyone happy?

Person 1: “Why don’t we just have everyone Skype in on 1 computer, so we don’t have the audio from one speaker going into another?”

Person 2: “Because, we can’t do group video conference on Skype.”

Person 3: “John, can you do on Google Hangout?”

Person 4: “Google Hangout? I can barely Skype.”

Person 5: “Why don’t we just use different computers?”

Person 6: “Because someone strongly objected to it.”

Person 5: “Well, can I strongly object to his objection?”

Person 6: “Oh my gosh, this is impossible.”

…And once we got through the first 40 minutes, this turned into a remarkable meeting. I’ll give someone else to honor of telling that story.

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After dropping Margaret off at Caltrain. Derek, David, Kathleen, and I went to get Thai food, where Derek ordered noodles that were painfully spicy. THE END.

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5 responses to “Like Herding Cats…

  1. You’re right, Sherol. The fact that this meeting happened and all these incredible people made it to the same room at the same time is quite and event. It was like getting the Justice League together or something.

    But, the noodles weren’t THAT spicy… 🙂

  2. I have a feeling that things will get easier from now on… the meeting was really THAT good. You guys are all pretty awesome. Can’t wait till our comic books start coming out.

  3. Pingback: The Story So Far + Next Steps | Reclaim International·

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