Friday, July 27, 2007

I Love Purple Cow


Yes, I love Purple Cow. No, not the poem by Gelett Burgess, who should also be famous for his invention of the book-jacket blurb. Nor am I talking about the best-selling book by Seth Godin on how to make your business stand out in the marketplace.


Instead I'm talking about the Purple Cow Brainstorming Circle, a Philadelphia-area networking group led by Jen Antonio-Lim and Mimi Somsanith and inspired by Godin's book. Every month, the group meets at a local coffee shop to hold an Open Mic Nite, although no microphone is involved. The group splits into groups of ten or so, and people start sharing their ideas. Every one in the group gets 3 minutes to pitch their idea -- for a product, a company, a service, or some other worthwhile undertaking they have in mind. The group then provides feedback, comments, and suggestions on the idea.

Why do I like the Purple Cow for networking?

The format of the group breaks down the traditional "cocktail party" atmosphere of so many other networking groups. You are immediately working, sharing, and discussing things as a group. You are out of your comfort zone and interacting with new people, but doing it in a very friendly and collegial atmosphere.

Purple Cow is all about ideas, and people get charged up about ideas. Sometimes two or three people will share similar ideas, and suddenly they are making arrangements to get together later to collaborate. That's power networking.

You share your skills and experience. The opportunity comes not only when you share your idea but when you respond to other people's ideas. You might have a perspective on an idea that no one else might have thought of.

You find people who can help you. During your pitch, you get a chance to list the things you need to make your idea happen. You would be surprised at the wealth of help that is available to you at a Purple Cow session.

Do you need an idea to come to a Purple Cow Brainstorming Session? No, but it certainly helps.

I made the commitment to attend without an idea in mind, but then I had a middle-of-the-night inspiration about creating a directory of local Philadelphia networking groups. The response to my idea at my first meeting gave me the momentum to create the PHLnetworking wiki. My second Purple Cow session has connected me with people who are planning similar resource directories, so maybe something even larger and stronger will come from collaborating with them.

If you don't have a Purple Cow Brainstorming Circle in your area, start one up yourself!

2 comments:

Jen said...

Oliver,

I think we should award you a special medal – or shall I say “MOOdal” – for the fastest pitch-to-execute time in Purple Cow history! Lovin the PHLnetworking wiki; there are so many thriving niche networking communities in Philly that are only known through word-of-mouth – we absolutely needed this community-driven gateway. Thank you!

As for the Purple Cows – I’m so happy that you find our gatherings so meaningful and beneficial. I’d like to comment on portions of your post:

[Oliver] “You are out of your comfort zone and interacting with new people, but doing it in a very friendly and collegial atmosphere.”

A friend once told me, “If it’s not uncomfortable, it’s not change.” It takes guts to articulate your idea to a diverse group of friends, acquaintances, and strangers, opening yourself up to objective feedback. Yes, indeed it can be scary – that’s the point!

Sometimes people will say, “I don’t have an idea to pitch, may I still come?” We always say, “Yes”, and I’ll share with you the unabridged answer: “Pitch something – anything. It doesn’t need to be perfect or mindblowing. It doesn’t need to cure cancer. Maybe it’s something you came up with in the shower this morning. Just get up there, and get uncomfortable with the rest of us.” There’s a lot of laughing at Purple Cow events. Play is the space where creativity and connection thrive.

Oliver: “You share your skills and experience. The opportunity comes not only when you share your idea but when you respond to other people's ideas. You might have a perspective on an idea that no one else might have thought of.”

Exactly! A key ingredient for this “outside perspective” is diversity. The Purple Cows aim to bring into one space ambassadors from diverse tribes based on industry, age, passions/hobbies, worldviews and beliefs. The more diverse, the richer the experience.

Oliver: "If you don't have a Purple Cow Brainstorming Circle in your area, start one up yourself!

As co-MOOrdinator and co-host of these Purple Cow events, I’d be happy to help anyone out there get started – feel free to contact me and Mimi S. here:
thepurplecows (at) gmail (dot) com

Vive la Cow,
jen

Rob Di Marco said...

Couldn't agree with you more. Great people, very encouraging, and really helped me with both my pitching and how to go forward.